12. Divorce an Aspies best friend.

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

People with Aspergers are never a woman’s first choice. We often come across as socially awkward and inappropriate. We may not pick up on cues as to when to change conversations, or when to end one. We have a hard time making eye contact, which is an extremely important quality in a potential mate.   But from our point of view, neurotypical people often have their values messed up when it comes to dating. For example, males will often choose women based on physical qualities that make them look young, an innate pedophilic tendency.  Additionally, they place too much emphasis on boobs, which are essentially just fat, and ass which I am not sure how anyone can objectify and sexualize. Gross! Often placing a higher value on personality traits than on physical traits, Aspies don’t discriminate by age.  What we find really sexy is a woman who is tolerant, warm, patient, compassionate and funny, which is, granted, much harder to find among Neurotypicals than a pretty face and a tiny waist.

Unlike Neurotypical males who can find females attractive purely on physical qualities, Neurotypical women judge mates differently. They are more likely to judge guys by the way they are dressed, whether they are well groomed or whether their clothes suggest they have money which in turn suggests that they would make a “good mate”. No matter how much of a feminist they are, Neurotypical women in my experience have generally been taken in more by outer signs of success than by inner qualities. They generally want a guy who will make lots of money, and will overlook the guy who will treat them with kindness every day that they are together. Sad but true. Women with Asperger’s are more likely to look for more important qualities such as whether someone treats them with respect.  Though what do I know, I have been unable to connect romantically with any of the women with Aspergers I’ve met.

Women are also more likely to find a man doing certain activities such as fixing a car, showing off athletic prowess or doing a bunch of other sexy activities, like getting a really great tax return. These activities that make a man sexier to women are areas that I will never excel at because of my Aspergers. That doesn’t mean that people with Aspergers don’t have their own good qualities. We are extremely loyal, kind and caring. I am the first person to make sure that everyone engaging in an activity gets to participate if they want to. I would go through hell and back for my friends. We are also very close with our families and value them more because we know that they have got us through many difficult times.

These qualities generally, however, won’t get us picked over a guy who is charismatic, good looking, or wealthy or a combination of these characteristics. Do not get me wrong. Neurotypical men also have their values messed up when it comes to the other gender, which I have already mentioned such as placing too high of value on butts and boobs.

Therefore, I was amazed when Alizza agreed to go out with me. It had only taken 28 years to find a woman who was willing to give me a chance. I just hoped that it wouldn’t take another 28 years before I finally convinced a girl to kiss me. I met Alizza and her friend Karen at an open mic at a local bar. I hadn’t had high hopes going into the show as it is generally not the best-run open mic in the city and I pretty much used it as a venue to test out jokes. That way, if the joke fell flat on its face I would not lose as much face, in terms of my reputation as a solid comedian.

I first noticed Karen after my set as they were only sitting two rows behind me. Three comedians later, it was Alizza’s turn to perform. I am not one of those people who argue that women are not funny. I know that there are many funny women out there, like Jen Grant, Elivira Kurt, Chantal Marostica and Tina Fey. I have noticed, however, that some women stand-up comics, when they first start out feel the need to show that they can be just as vulgar as any of the men who perform. Therefore, while Alizza was kind of funny, her set had more vulgarity than I would have normally preferred.

Therefore, after my set, as a way of striking up a conversation with the two of them, I went back to congratulate Alizza on her set. As soon as I started talking, however, Alizza told me how much she really enjoyed my set and offered me a hug. The physical contact made me feel all warm and gooey inside. Aspies appreciate the small things. After talking with her and her friend awhile, I went home and Facebooked Alizza, to ask her to go to Rumor’s Comedy Club, which is Winnipeg’s premiere, and admittedly only, comedy club in the city. I figured that I had nothing to lose. After all, what was the worst thing that could happen? That she said no? Who cares, after all, she didn’t mean anything to me at that point, she was just a pretty girl. I definitely did not think she was going to accept because I am very insecure when it comes to women. Therefore, it was a huge surprise to me when Alizza did accept. We had a pretty good night together, starting with me picking her up from her rehearsal for the musical theatre show that she was doing at the time. When we started talking and I found out her life story, I was amazed to find out that not only was she older than me, much older, but she had been previously divorced. It made me look at divorced women in a whole new way.

I realize that I am not most women’s first choice, simply because they don’t have their priorities straight. Therefore, I figured the best thing a woman can do to give me the best chance of success is to be previously married. See, if a woman marries her ideal mate who is charismatic and charming and finds out that he is also in fact, quite flawed, then she may look for other characteristics in a man. Especially if her ex’s flaw is that he is a cheater or a narcissist as some Neurotypicals are. After all, not everything that glitters is gold. Substance over style. Neurotypical people have a million and one metaphors about looking past charisma and looks, because, quite frankly, they often don’t.

Do not get me wrong, as I have been stressing, there are some good neurotypical men and women out there; they are just a tiny minority and are as hard to find as a needle in a haystack. A bad divorce also means that a woman may move more slowly before jumping into the next relationship, and may take her time with the next guy before she’s ready to develop romantic feelings. This lines up nicely with the interests of people with Aspergers, because we don’t always make the most favourable first impression. But I am pretty confident that, given enough time, we can find room in any woman’s heart through our positive characteristics.  Still, I had the same challenges reading her as with any woman.

Nevertheless, I thought that I had done enough to warrant a second date with Alizza and that we had as much of a real connection as I have ever had with another person. But that second date never happened. She told me that she didn’t date other performers.  But then she began seeing another guy, a younger comedian, and that was beginning to blossom into a romantic relationship. At the time I felt absolutely devastated.   I also felt that Alizza had led me on, by letting me buy the tickets and think it was a date. She assured me it was a date and she had been genuinely interested, just not as interested as she was with the other guy, Kevin, who was probably rich, charismatic, or good looking.

I eventually recovered and became friends with her, even though nothing romantic or physical ever happened. I thought that we had a real connection.  That led me to postulate that I had a lot to be excited about as I got older, and that I would have more success with divorced women than with women who had never been married and had traumatic experiences. I am not saying that all divorces are traumatic; I am saying that the more traumatic and horrible the ex-husband was, the better chance I have with these ladies. Also, that many neurotypical men are awful.

I don’t think anyone can really cherish compassion in another person until they have known what it is like to be with someone who only thinks about themselves. In my opinion, this is the only way that many males with Aspergers stand a chance when it comes to dating. Therefore, it is not unusual for them to begin having relationships later in life.  Having them when we’re young adults is another societal landmark that we will miss completely.  In fact that expectation is completely inappropriate when it comes to us.

This can be annoying as there are lots of messages suggesting one should be finding your soul mate while you are still quite young. After all, all of the Disney Princesses married at the height of their beauty and youth. Many movie characters marry their high school sweethearts or meet in university. In The Other Woman, Cameron Diaz says that by the early thirties, there are no longer any great eligible bachelors to date and dating goes downhill after that. Ironically, Cameron Diaz was in her early forties when she filmed that line, an age in Hollywood most women are considered repulsive, unless you are Judy Dench, Meryl Streep or Julianne Moore. What Diaz says is true, only if you define a great eligible bachelor as charismatic and dreamy and are unable to have the maturity to realize the number of great guys who are now in front of you.

In addition, some people, scratch that, most people, don’t learn their lesson and will continue to go for the jerks just because they are charismatic, good looking and rich, or a combination of the three. There is no guarantee they will change. I know one girl who went out for several years with this guy who cheated on her, when she was out of town. She was heartbroken; nevertheless, the guy was such a charmer that even though he had had unprotected sex with another woman, and had possibly given her an STI when she got back into town, she eventually got back together with him. Their mutual friends, however, were not even loyal enough to tell her anything until she had already slept with the guy and he had already broken up with her. This guy being as self-centered as he was, after getting a second chance, then proceeded to waste his money on a drug habit. Not only that, but he was also extremely selfish when it came to the bedroom, something no Aspie has ever been accused of, partly because none of us has ever made it that far. I am not judging him or her as I don’t know what was going on in their lives that made them go down the paths that they did. What I am saying, however, is that she had her values out of whack and if, instead of going for the charismatic guy, she had dated a guy with Aspergers, she would have been much better off, because we are more loyal to anyone who shows us kindness. Guess what? She would still rather date another guy who was more like her ex, who had treated her so badly, than give a guy with Aspergers a chance.  Because some people never change. No matter how many times they get burnt they will still be drawn to the hot flame. There really is no helping these people, which is just a sad fact of life after all she had many great qualities going for her other than her taste in men, since she was smart and funny and had a great laugh.

The fact that we have to wait until a girl gets her heart ripped out of her chest and stomped on before she will consider giving us a chance can be very hard on the ego of someone with Aspergers. I mean it is hard to stay positive, and do everything that you need to do to take care of yourself, to be able to take advantage of opportunities, if and when they present themselves to you later in life. It is very hard to see all of your friends in relationships or hooking up with sexy girls, and to continue smiling and believing that you too will one day find love.

It is very easy to try to compensate for these hurt feelings by turning to food and trying to eat away the pain. After all, these feelings are saying to you, “if no one is going to want to love you one way or another why prevent yourself from eating another chocolate, when food and your taste buds never chose your friend over you?” You never pursue chocolate actively, only to find out that there was information that you didn’t pick up on because of your Aspergers, that led you on to believe you had a chance, only to reject you in the end because of your flaws. If you listen to this voice, however, you end up losing because you are not able to take advantage of romantic opportunities as they present themselves. There is no reason why you can’t have the same joy you see your friends having with someone they really connect with, if you’re patient enough and let the divorce process and bitter breakups do the work for you. You can still have the romantic picnics in the park or hold hands with a girl in the movie theatre, you’ll just do it at age 33 (or in Cameron Diaz’s version in your early 40s) instead of 15, like other people around you will do. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that this has to be the process for all men with Aspergers.  I can only speak to my own experience which has been especially soul crushing. I still have not yet found the right girl.

I know one guy, Steven, Moshe’s uncle, who doesn’t have Aspergers, but who only settled down and got married in his forties. If he had given up on himself it is unlikely that he would ever have been able to stay positive and make this relationship work. He is now super happy with his new wife. Even though society said that Steven should have settled down earlier and married long ago, and that if it hadn’t already happened by the time he was twenty-five he might as well resign himself to being a bachelor forever, his story had a happy outcome.  He did not follow the norm when it came to relationships the way they’re portrayed in romantic movies.  But there is no reason we need to believe that they represent the only kind of happy relationships possible, or that we need to follow their rules, or we won’t find someone with the right values when it comes to romantic relationships.  So, now I wait for Cameron Diaz.

Ashley Madison

Posted: September 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Recently many people got stung by hackers releasing the list of users from Adultery website Ashley Madison. I bet their partners aren’t feeling great right now. Truth is fidelity is one of the perks of dating someone on the Autism Spectrum, because like Penguins we mate for life, also because we look great in tuxedos. There is also the fact that we will have had fewer partners than our Neurotypical counterparts. Having Autism means that we don’t form instant connections but having romantic relationships with someone is the end result of lots and lots of work and effort. It is also the result of lots of convincing, and, or, begging. Truthfully we will never have an affair because we don’t have the interest, patience or time to convince a second person to have a romantic relationship with us therefore we are going to do everything humanly possible to make that relationship with the first person great. This, inability to form instant connections, does not bode well if we get divorced late in life but at the same time we are going to be a much better partner than 98% of the other people out there. So now these significant others, of those on the infamous list, have two choices they can try and work things out never really knowing if they can trust their partner ever again or they can get a new partner. I hope you take this article into account the next time you pick your partner in crime. That ultimately, you can choose that charming charismatic prince, who may or may not cheat on you, or you can pick the partner who’s the diamond in the rough who will treat you the queen or king you are.

Adam Schwartz is a stand-up comedian, an Aspie, an Autist, and author of soon to be released book, I have Aspergers so I’m better than you.

Failure my old friend

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

There is an excellent Ted talk about making failure your friend and why you shouldn’t be afraid of a failure by Aisha Alfa, and it’s absolutely true. Having Aspergers it often feels like there are few areas where I have as much success as I do in stand-up comedy. My friends sometimes seem to drift away from me based on what it is going on in their lives. In addition, I often feel unable to connect with women and I have been feeling extra lonely lately with one of my best friends getting married two weeks ago, one already married and another one getting married next month. Therefore, the success from stand-up comedy can sometimes go to my head. Sometimes as an Aspie I have a hard time being realistic and I live in my imagination thinking something is a lot worse or better than it is in reality. When it does I lose all sense of relativity and get upset when I don’t get put on shows someone is producing or when someone tries to cut my stage time for arriving late. Really, the only reason why a regular to an open mics time should be cut is if he or she is failing to connect with the audience. After doing well in a few shows I think I am a comedy God.

This head space is never a good place to be. No one should think they are a comedy God, NEVER, no exceptions.  Thinking you are a comedy god leads you to be lazy when it comes to writing and going up with half formed ideas because you think anything will work. You also lose all sense of humility. So what is the answer to stop success from going to your head? Failure. Failure makes you work harder, respect other comedians as well as the audience as well as the form of itself. Failure is your friend who tells you it tells you “I am glad you are making strides in your improvement, but you still have a long way to go. What do you think you’re Russell Peters. “You’re not ready to headline a comedy club, but you might be one day!” People shouldn’t fear failure they should embrace it because only be failing can you continue to grow.  Failure tests how serious you really are about comedy and separates the people who love it from those who will quit at the first sign of struggle.  Failure is also one friend who will never leave you or have less time for you just because it got married. Therefore, I say go out and fail and have a ball of it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not, may as well embrace it.

In other news I will be turning this blog over to David Perlmutter and Annette DimWitte as I focus first on my Fringe Festival show in Toronto July 2-12, (tell all your friends and family) and then on my book I hope to have finished before December (cross your fingers).

Out of Sink…

Posted: May 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Out of Sync                                                                                          Annette DeWit

Some one asked, “How does my Aspergers affect me? What does it mean to me?

When I was a kid we had a set of Encyclopedias in which the ‘human body’ section had several layers of transparencies detailing the different body systems. As the sheets were layered onto each other a complete diagram of a person was revealed. I found that fascinating, and spent hours lifting and lowering the different sheets to compare the resulting pictures.                                               What I noticed then was that until the layers were flat and smoothly together the diagrams didn’t work. They would not come into focus and make a complete picture.

Do you remember setting the station on the car radio by turning a dial? And how sometimes you just couldn’t get it to tune right, and there was always just a little bit of static, no matter how you twiddled with it? The signal was always just a little bit fuzzy.

In hind sight, those two sensations, of blurred incompletion, and fuzzy partial communication, were fairly central to my perception of reality. I often quote “normal is what you live in/with” or “…what you are used to.” While both of those statements are in a way true, I was also always conscious of a sense of abnormal. I have always been aware of being different.

I would comment at times that I ‘didn’t get’ my classmates. Or that I wasn’t the same kind of person. That I wasn’t part of the group they made, ‘not one of the girls’. As I grew, I phrased it as ‘being tuned to a different wavelength, not speaking the same language,’ or ‘looking at [life] from the wrong angle.’

There were times when I embraced these differences. I could read faster, retain more, memorize more. I didn’t get into silly immature scrapes, didn’t have crushes that left me in tears over being “dumped”, didn’t get bored, wasn’t interested/obsessed with silly things like makeup.

I could build entire worlds in my imagination, populate them with characters drawn from any story I knew, and play with them in any way I chose. I told and wrote stories. Easily, even obsessively. I wrote and like poetry, and recited it on stage. I wasn’t chicken about being in front of an audience. I took care of animals, and gardened. And I looked things up.

But I hated parties, girl talk, very confusing boy talk, people whose minds didn’t match mine, teachers who “were dumber than me” (arrogant little me), rules for no reason, homework when I already knew the material, homework that was work, scheduled demands on me… Also, I was weird, and bullied. More than I understood at the time, actually, for which I am grateful. I wasn’t the nicest of kids either. A fast mind, large vocabulary and over-strong contempt leads to some very mean things said.

Mostly though, I just didn’t fit. And I knew it. And it hurt. I believed I would never have real friends, never understand people, what they say, what they mean, how they think and feel. I believed I would never be a whole person, that I was somehow lacking, or defective, because I didn’t really care most of the time. Most of the time, I didn’t even really want all the things I was ‘lacking’ in. I usually preferred to be left alone.

But I still said “I would trade ¾ of my brain power just to be normal.” My understanding of myself was profoundly negative, despite a superiority complex. I am edging on genius range after all. (In a few areas) [that’s mostly sarcastic]

No one knew I truly wasn’t normal. I was just weird. Finally, people, except for an amazing few, did leave me alone; they mostly ignored me, and I mostly ignored everyone else. It worked, after a fashion. Eventually, I got through. I got through several years of work, and then tried a year boarding and attending university. I crashed. It was disastrous. I was completely unprepared and totally convinced I was no good. I questioned my faith; accused God of screwing up my design. I begged Him to just let me die already, since I wasn’t any use or value.

With time and anti-depressants I recovered, (mostly). I worked more, attended college, gained a diploma… Then I couldn’t hold down a job since I couldn’t recognize poor work situations, and suffered repeated communication failures. I crashed again and more or less gave up.

Then, a profession development series about students with disabilities undertaken by my mother, who is teacher, led to some serious conversations around the table, and the Question.

“Have you ever considered you may have Aspergers?”

I was diagnosed at age 26. No one knew. No one saw. I was just normal enough that no one even thought to look. Not anyone’s fault, just the way it was.

It was a huge relief. I got some counseling, religious and secular and learned some coping strategies and better ways to think. I learned to be conscious of my mind, self aware in a way I had never been; to monitor my emotions and thoughts. It helped.

I still struggle. It’s only been four years. I take my pills. I have a steady job. Not my dream job, but I have worked there for three years and counting. I am good at it. And I can hope again. I dream. I can rest safely in the knowledge that God has a plan for me, just as I am. Because I am not broken, or defective, or uncaring or lazy, or even (especially?) wrongly made. Just a little out of sync with the others.

Sadly, my story isn’t all that atypical. Until very recently, no one had ever heard of Aspergers and Autism meant idiot’s savant, or screaming non-communicating savages. The sort-of-normal fell through the cracks, functioned just well enough in school that they never received extra help, and struggled horribly in the unscheduled, unprotected real world.

Thank God, things are looking up. Those diagnosed today look for a better tomorrow.

Be unfair to a woman that’s sexist, discriminate against someone of another colour and that’s racist, put people with Autism at a disadvantage… that is acceptable. Let’s be honest no one can discriminate against someone based on sexuality, gender, race, age or religion and still consider themselves a good person. Nevertheless, if two straight white males interview for a job the one who is more charismatic and likeable is going to get the job. Of course likeability in a job interview is based on picking up on non-verbal cues, as well as a bunch of other factors such as how you dress and present yourself, but you really wouldn’t be able to pick up on that if you aren’t reading what the people around you are telling you with their body language, and sending back the right ones yourself. An employer simply has to say that the, person without Autism has better “people skills” or “soft skills”.  People skills are something that a person can work on and improve dramatically. What people don’t tell you, however, is that no matter how much you improve or work your ass off at it, the people skills of a Neurotypical person are generally going to be a 100 times better even if they never make an effort. Just the way our brains are wired.  After all why wouldn’t you hire the person who is going to fit better in the work environment and you can see yourself being friends with. At least that is the way that the interviewer must see it.

Here is what is wrong with that. One could argue that, that life is unfair and there is no discrimination involved because they are unaware that one of the candidates is on the Autism spectrum, even if they were aware the other candidate is just better for the job. This is not always the case, however. If the job is sales or working in a tiny cramped room with someone else than of course take the person who is better able to make a first impression, however, the job being interviewed may have nothing to do with first impressions or even face-to-face interaction where body language comes into play.  Working in a library, archives or even as part of an auto mechanic team making great first impression shouldn’t be as important as other skills. People with Autism are loyal, hard-working, dedicated and honest to a point where you may have to ask them to keep their opinions to themselves. That honesty, however, can save a project that was doomed for failure if no one spoke up but had been more worried with currying favor with the superior.  I would much rather have a heart surgeon who was competent, hard-working and knowledgeable in their field which are characteristics people on the spectrum have in abundance,  but comes off awkward when I first meet him. Other jobs like telemarketing don’t require being able to read body language as all the work takes place over the phone and they may have little interaction with their co-workers.  Yet, in all of these jobs no one has taken out the bias towards people who are charismatic and make great first impressions but may turn out to be dishonest and lazy. Therefore, once again the person with Autism is going to go home without the job.

Though, there is really nothing you can do about this anymore than you can pass rules about who someone needs to be friends with or date. That is one of the really annoying parts is that there is no one to blame as the bias is deeply buried in the interview system. If a woman gets discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, she can tell everyone and they can agree that the guilty party is a misogynistic pig. People will actually join her in their hatred of that person and they will share her story with other people. There may even be an inquiry into the situation.  If someone with Autism gets passed up for a job, while what are we really going to do?

As a stand-up comedian it can be quite detrimental to my career. Let’s say I do as well as anyone else, which is very subjective and I am firmly on team Schwartz here, when it comes to open mics which is like the never-ending audition for who the more successful comedians take with them on the road when they get a paying gig. The thing is that I am still unlikely to get picked and given the opportunity, because the comedian who got the gig in the first place is likely to want to take someone that they feel like they really connect with, again with the nonverbal cues and reciprocity, as they are going to have to spend at least four hours in the car with them. It is not like there is any kind of appeal process it simply is what it is. It is not like I can even get upset with who gets the opportunities because they totally deserve them as they also work hard, spending the time writing and coming out to open mics and are very talented. I want the best for them as they are my friends. That is probably the most frustrating part because you really want an outside party to rally against and say all kinds of nasty things about, because it’s unfair, but what can you really say it’s nobody’s fault.

This discreet discrimination also impacts our social life. For example, if a group of co-workers are getting together after work for a pint if everyone is invited except for Tom, because he’s gay that’s homophobic. If everyone is getting together but they don’t invite the guy with Autism, while that’s fine he probably wouldn’t have had that nice of a time anyway because he wouldn’t have anyone to talk to so it’s for the best.  This is an experience that is common for many people on the Autism spectrum. Therefore, levelling the playing field for people Autism because we lack “soft skills” is going to be much harder struggle than it is for most other groups.

Cartoon_Vampire__Vector_by_paulh18                                                                                       1, 511 words

By David Perlmutter

Candace, the teenage vampire, was asleep in her coffin. This was not unusual for girls her age, especially this early in the night, since many her age could easily sleep until well after that. However, Candace was, as I said, a vampire, albeit one only recently bitten, and therefore her hair (flaming red) and face had not yet become pale, blanched and dark like that of other vampires. And, as a newbie vampy, she still hadn’t adjusted to some of the requirements of the job- such as being awake at night and sleeping during the day.

Thus, when her alarm clock rang, she considered, with profane thoughts, simply destroying it to begin her day- or night- later than usual. But she couldn’t do that. She had an internal schedule she had to abide by, so she turned off the clock and, with a blue heart, headed off to begin her vampire night shift.

The internal schedule was something that had become doubly reinforced after she had become a vampire. Because, even before then, she had been afflicted with a disorder just as demanding and debilitating as vampirism: Asperger’s Syndrome.

In case you don’t know about this disorder, let me explain it briefly. Discovered by the German scientist for which it was named in the 1940s, but not fully identified until the 1970s, Asperger’s is a syndrome that is entirely mental, with few physical symptoms. While those afflicted with it are often mentally gifted and able to function with some success in society, they have certain flaws in their makeup that get them characterized as “eccentrics” and “freaks”, especially in social and physical warfare settings- like high school. They cannot understand jokes unless it is obvious that they are jokes, so humor with a more cerebral component to it is often beyond them. They become easily obsessed with little things, things the average “normal” person can do without thinking about for long periods (like forever), and feel estranged from the rest of the community for what they see as their inability to understand why those things are so important to them. Most of all, many of them have a great deal of fear about talking and even approaching others for fear of being ridiculed for displaying their “eccentricities”. As a consequence, many “aspies” are incorrectly labeled as “shy” or “anti-social”, and are isolated from their peers even more than before for that reason.

As a consequence of her Asperger’s, diagnosed at the age of six, Candace was not exactly the most sociable of people, and was certainly classifiable as an “eccentric” for her obsessions. Chief of these, now that a supposedly “friendly” boy had turned her into a vampire with a bite on the neck only a few weeks ago, was the one and only thing vampires happened to be obsessed with:



Jolted awake by the alarm, Candace got into her clothes in a mad rush of activity. She was asking herself a myriad number of questions at once, as is common among the more easily stressed out aspies. Naturally, they were things she and she alone was willing and able to obsess about in her condition:

Is my hair all right?

Are my clothes on straight?

Do I look UGLY?

Would anyone really care about me? EVER?

DOES anyone care about me? EVER?

Will I ever get a good job?

Will I ever own a good house?

Will anyone want to hire me for a good job? And pay me well for it?

Can I ever get my peers to like me? And what about the older people?

And last, but certainly not least:

Can I get somebody to let me suck their blood tonight? ANYONE?

This last question was a bit more of a concern for Candace, for she would be the first to admit that, through her lack of experience and other factors, she was totally incompetent at luring others to their doom the way vampires were supposed to do. She’d already brought shame and disgrace on herself by becoming a vamp in the first place! Was that not bad enough? Did she have to be the worst vampire in the history of vampires besides that?

“Focus, Candace!” she said as she saw her dressed self in the mirror, adopting the proper menacing vampire mask on her face, or, at least, what she imagined it was. “You can do this! What man, whatever his age, can resist a cutie like you? You just go out of here and down to the park and bag yourself a BOY! Then you’ll feel better!”

“I suppose so,” she said to herself out loud, reluctantly. “Nothing else to do here at night!” And so she walked, with the measured pace of a vampire and the impersonal mask of same on hers, down to the park to fetch herself some blood.


Happily, there were people hanging around the park, specifically boys, even at this late hour. Candace sighed with relief while maintaining her mask-like exterior. Now all she needed to do was find one.

Spotting a sizeable target, she zoomed in on him. For the kill.

“I want to suck your blood!” she purred in a Bela Lugosi accent to get his attention after forcing him to look at her by turning him around. He wasn’t buying it, though.

“TAKE OFF, bitch!” he shouted at her. “Ain’t got time for none of your mind games!”

“I’m not playing around here!” Candace warned him, or, at least, she tried to. “I really am a vampire! And I really need your blood! Give me some of your blood, please! PLEASE! I need it to LIVE!”

“You gonna die if you don’t back AWAY from me!” he said, hustling a switchblade out of his pocket to show her he meant business. She let him go, reluctantly and sadly.

Near a fountain, she found a whole parcel of boys lounging there. Surely, there would be enough blood in them to sustain her! Or would there be? Would any of them notice her enough to CARE about her and her predicament? She had to TRY, at least. And so she did.

“Hey, fellas,” she said flirtatiously. “Care to give up some BLOOD?”

They did-and said-nothing.

“You doofuses!” Candace retorted angrily to their indifference. “I’m a pretty girl– and a VAMPIRE, to boot! Don’t you even CARE about that? Can’t any of you give me blood?”

Silence. At least towards her.

“Look at me!” she finally commanded, in desperation. “LOOK AT ME, YOU ASSHOLES! Don’t you have any respect for a lady?” She began crying, tears running down her face and ruining her perfectly prepared makeup. “I need some blood here, and, if you don’t want to GIVE it to me, I’ll TAKE IT FROM YOU!”

Shut up!” said a Mexican guy in the darkness, who threw dirt at her. “You bitches is all alike! You got charnel breath anyway- putrid STINK! You a VAMPIRE, man- we don’t hang with no vampires! You get outta here!”

He and his friends threw more dirt at Candace, and she ran away. Sobbing hard, she collapsed under a tree.

“What the hell’s the use?” she bawled. “I’m not a damn VAMPIRE! I can’t even get a single guy to give me his blood! I might as well eat garlic or drive a stake through my heart or something, ‘cause I can’t….”

“Pardon me, miss,” a new voice said. “Did you say you’re a vampire?” This new voice was accompanied by a silhouette of a boy about her age. A handsome boy, yet. Candace took notice.

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m a vampire. Just been for a couple of weeks or so, though. What of it?”

“I’m a vampire, too,” he said. He proved it by stepping out of the shadows and into the moonlight, revealing blond haired, blue eyed good looks- and vampire fangs. “I got lots of experience at it, though. About two years worth. You think maybe I could help you out?”

“YES!” she said desperately. Then, checking herself, she added in a more subdued voice: “I mean: certainly you can.”

“You need blood,” he said, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. “Let’s get you to the blood bank.”

“Wait a minute!” she said. “You can get blood from a BANK now? I was trying to do it the hard way!”

“Boy! You don’t seem to know a lot about being a vampire, do you?”

“Well, like I said, I’ve only been one for a couple of weeks now!”

“I should definitely help you out, then.”

“Sure. Only let’s go somewhere isolated where we can talk.”

“Definitely the blood bank, then.”

As they walked off together, Candace decided that maybe she could handle being both an aspie and a vampire. As long as she kept her ducks in a row, anyway. But she had help for that now, and because of that, she felt more secure. It was the kind of security that only people with Asperger’s-unlike vampires-need.

I read text-books and research books for entertainment and general, insatiable, curiosity. I also read incredible amounts of fiction, both popular and obscure. I’m weird like that.

My latest choice in educational material has been the “What to Expect” books, both “The First Years” and “The Toddler Years.” Why? A question in normal childhood development regarding one of my nephews. I didn’t know, so I decided to look it up. (The answer was extremely inconclusive. Precocity is purely a matter of opinion.)

Someone asked me, why would I read that? After all, there is no lack of great ‘fun’ stuff to read. Why look up how kids grow? Or any text book-y stuff?

The answer is simple. Unpredictable is scary. It is hard to deal with, impossible to fully prepare for, and leads to endless opportunities to screw things up. Reading about real life: science, nature, researching a project, any of those: leads to an increased understanding of the world around in all its glorious and amazing, ever changing, variety. It is also fun, with cool information and pictures.

Of all the things in real life, people are the hardest, and scariest, of all. Their emotions, motives, intentions, expressions; everything about them is often unclear even to themselves. What they think, intend, feel, say; all that changes from day to day or over more time. Even the relatively ‘simple’ progression of biological and social development varies so widely as to render ‘norms’ virtually irrelevant. This makes understanding people a really, really big challenge. Also, exhausting.

Fiction on the other hand, is comparatively simple. Not always easy; that’s no fun, but simple. I love complex fiction. I love Dr. Who, Tolkien, BBC’s Sherlock, S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse, and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I love Tom Clancy and his doorstopper thrillers with their interwoven plots and schemes, and the (admittedly less familiar to me) Marvel Universe with its endless tangles of characters.

The thing is, they are all simple. There are rules. All the characters in all the worlds the story tellers create exist for a reason. Their motives are told, or left a mystery on purpose for suspense, but they have them. Their emotions are stated and their thoughts explained. Effect follows cause, and actions lead to results/consequences. The plot developments occur in sequence (or out of them, for Timelords) and make sense, eventually. There IS a plot; a consideration real life, from inside anyway, appears to be lacking in. God’s plan, while ever-present, seldom comes with maps or sticky-notes on the table.

There are story telling conventions, “Tropes,” that all authors and creators use that can be predicted, or cheerfully averted to further the story and effectively share it with the audience. It means you know that when the good guy goes down a dark hole and his light goes out (X-files) the bad guy is there. “Saw that coming!” Or maybe not, but some other surprise is, “Well, that was unexpected.” And at the end, the story is over. The plot comes to some satisfactory conclusion. Unless the author is cruel and has an unhealthy fondness for cliffhangers, but you can’t have everything. Even so, your own knowledge of the rules of stories makes splicing on your own ending imminently possible.

I like when a story –events, a character’s life- have rules. People should come with an operating manual. And a help line.


Posted: April 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

This week is a double feature. Not only are we posting a new article from Annette, but, I also decided that I would use this space to highlight a group who are doing great things for Autistic Families in Winnipeg.

Autism Winnipeg PACE (Parents of Autistic Children Everywhere) is dedicated to serving our community by providing a valuable service, for both parents and children whose lives are affected by autism or ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Children enjoy “gymboree time” every Tuesday evening, while parents have a cup of coffee and talk with parents who understand, don’t judge and embrace each other’s problems.  Teens have their own group, where they play cards or boards games and work on social skills facilitated by a parent.

Birthday parties are tough for children on the spectrum.  The children often don’t get invited to parties, and when they invite children from their class, parents often struggle with no shows.  Autism Winnipeg PACE recognizes this problem and has created a solution:  Monthly birthday parties!  Here’s how they’ve become a part of the solution:  Children with a birthday in a given month are thrown a birthday party, to which Arlene, owner and operator of Cakes by Arlene, donates a specialty cake for the kids. The parents of the birthday boy or girl purchase a $5 gift for their child to open to make them feel special, and the rest of the Autism Winnipeg PACE community comes and celebrates the birthdays as a family.

Every Friday night is time for Youth Group.  This group has been offered to our autism community by Reverend Mark Satterly at Kildonan United Church.  Mark has seen the struggles most parents face and wants to help by offering special services and supports to families living with autism.  One of these ways is by providing an all-inclusive Youth Group, with the help of parents.  This provides both parents and children the opportunity to learn together.

Monthly bowling for the group has become an incredible gift to both parents and children, as families get to play as part of a team.  Co-founder Lou Lovrin is a terrible bowler, but she doesn’t let that little fact stop her from having fun with the kids.  The guard rails at the bowling lanes were not put up for the kids; they’re up for the protection of those around Lou…  She’s thrown her ball in neighboring lanes around her, but now that danger has passed with the guard rails, and her hubby, Co-founder Mike Wilwand, has assured folks he is in complete control of her game.  Bowling may not seem like much to folks, but it is very therapeutic; it encourages and teaches turn taking, social skills, gross motor skills, math skills, communication and more.

With summer finally approaching, Lou and Mike will be organizing many fun events for the kids with the help of Events Coordinator Arlene Reid, Marketing Executive Michael Nurse, Graphics Designer Noreen Luptak and Teen Leaders Carollynne and Daniel Picton.  Some of the plans for the summer include a Family Day Camp and possibly three overnight Family Camping Trips.  Each camping trip would consist of a minimum two night stay, with lots of fun activities for families to enjoy.  Every kid should have a chance to go camping, and Autism Winnipeg PACE gives families the opportunity to not only go camping, but go as a large group to 1) ensure safety, 2) have fun and 3) not worry about being judged by the campers next door who “just don’t get it.”  Their first camping trip is in preparation as we speak, coming this May long weekend.  Three days and three nights at Bird’s Hill Park packed with memorable adventures for the whole family.

The biggest event of the year is their annual World Autism Awareness Day Walk, every April 2nd.  All of Winnipeg is invited to attend the walk, meeting at the Legislature Building.  The walk lasts about 20 minutes.  Every walk (three so far) is packed with 400 hand colored posters (compliments of the children attending kid gymboree) which people wear for the walk, 180 decoupage mason jar lanterns (made again by the children attending kid Gymboree and Youth Group) and always includes fun music, guest speakers, coffee and a quick snack.  This last walk consisted of approximately three hundred people, and featured comedian Adam Schwartz, artist Ryan Smoluk, Fred Penner, Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s Louie Richardson, Buzz and Boomer and Lionel from Boston Pizza.  The kids and parents had a great time, had coffee thanks to Starbucks and cupcakes thanks to Arlene of Cakes by Arlene.

For more information on Autism Winnipeg PACE, check out their website at www.autismwinnipegpace.com or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/autismwinnipegpace/.

People with Autism have such narrow interest. Growing up I only played four different sports because I simply had no interest in cricket or Polo. I didn’t even compete in diving, talk about a narrow focus. This is probably to my detriment and I would be a more well-rounded person, if my interests were more diverse say La Vie. In addition, I only write creative non-fiction and stand-up comedy. All the other writers are like “Would it really hurt you to write a poem every once in a while or even a sketch, you are so boring!” Someone could argue that we don’t have narrow interests we have tastes and preferences, but that is merely a sign that we are denial of our Autism.

The DSM 5 list is also bang on when it says that we like engaging in repetitive behaviors. Fortunately, Society can be so accommodating to our need. Every day we wake up, go to work, come home, and go to bed. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like, if sometimes, I came home and didn’t go to bed, or if I only had a job to go to some of the time while the rest of the time I just got up and watched television all day. I mean would it kill me to dinner at 4pm or 4am instead of being so darn predictable? I mean PLEASE! I even catch the same bus to work and never really vary my routine by doing something different like, you know hang-gliding or dogsledding to work.

Another hilariously autistic characteristic is our poor-hand-eye-coordination. While it may be hilarious to us, it can be a real nuisance to the people around us. I am so glad that giant industries have been created surrounding us such as the Velcro industry. A heartfelt thank you goes out to the shoe industry for giving us so much choice. Phew I thought that we would be stuck with Velcro and slippers, but, boom out comes another kind of slip on shoe called Crocs I don’t know what we did to deserve all of this. I mean, they do realize that we probably make up less than a tenth of the shoe market, don’t they? Either way, I’m not going to complain. There are a million and one other products designed for us that if I had to handwrite a thank you card to each of the inventors or heads of industries it would take me years. Fortunately, someone anticipated how long it would take to write each card legibly with my poor-hand-coordination and designed first the type writer and then the computer and if that wasn’t enough Graham Bell designed the telephone so I could thank each of them personally.

One characteristic that I personally struggle with more than most, is social interactions and communications. I am constantly observing other people to know how to interact. I have been doing dating wrong every single time I go on one. I always put my cellphone in my pocket instead of just putting it on the table and answering texts all night. I have also been watching videos on Youtube wrong. Instead of trying to find videos that I will actually enjoy, I should be trolling around the internet to find videos that I can write hurtful messages about. Trolling and shaming don’t just happen naturally you constantly have to be working at it if you don’t want your skills to get rusty.  Another observation is that it’s almost rude not to slap your waitress on the ass. No matter how old you are, whether your wife or children are there or not, when she walks by your table midway through the meal you just need to reach out and touch her on the ass. Also it is super important to always let people know how busy or tired you are, or people will think you are slacking off and not getting the most out of your day. Thank goodness for my opportunities to observe these individuals, hopefully one day I will be as socially adept as they are.

A symptom of our poor social skills is our struggles with making sustained eye-contact. At the Autism games in a staring contest Kevin Willis once stared his opponent in the eye for a whopping ten seconds. Our plight, however, has received very little sympathy from women. They are constantly making snide comments like “My eyes are up here!” or asking if we are staring at their chests when it is obvious. Don’t they realize the person they are talking to has Autism? They just don’t just realize how prevalent it is and how sometimes every single guy at a party is on the spectrum. The most recent statistics, 1 in 57 people, totally underestimate how big a percentage of the population has Autism I think its closer to 1 out of every 2 people.



Terry The Turtle, moving with considerably more grace and speed than the average member of his species, moved towards the door of the abandoned storage locker in the abandoned storage locker warehouse that he shared with his companion in endeavours.  On two legs rather than four, so that he resembled a bald, green-skinned human in a shell, he moved towards the closed, silver door of the locker and knocked on it with one of his “hands”.

“Bessie!” he shouted. “Open the door!”

Slowly, the mechanism of the door opened, revealing Terry’s companion, a white furred greyhound, on her hind legs like Terry, who had just pushed the button inside of the locker in order to open the door. He entered the locker, and then she cautiously pressed it so that it closed behind him.

“This better be good!” she warned him. “I had a hard time sleeping last night, after….”

“Never mind that!” he snapped. “You’re supposed to be my assistant, remember? The deal we made when we escaped…”

“I have a life outside of you!” she countered.

Terry and Bessie were both mutants, creatures with capabilities beyond those of the normal members of their species, capabilities that had emerged as a result of their exploitation as lab animals in a nearby university from which they had escaped. Terry had advanced strength, speed and intelligence, while Bessie possessed the speed of a supersonic jet and agility to match. As part of an informal pact that they had made upon escaping their confinement, they agreed to fight crime and other social ills together- though what they did with their off hours was their own business, as Bessie was now reminding Terry. He liked to think of himself as the senior partner, though Bessie was quick to remind him otherwise.

“Fine!” Terry resumed speaking. “We have an actual problem now, so I would appreciate your help here!”

“What is it?” Bessie asked.

“Hattie Malatti.”

“Her again?”

“’Fraid so.”

“What’ s she doing this time?”

“She’s got a watermelon on her, and….”


“DON’T LAUGH! This is SERIOUS work, Bessie…”

“Okay, okay! But a watermelon?”

“It’s about as average a watermelon as we are an average turtle and dog!”

“How come?”

“She’s somehow managed to insert a bomb into the rind without disturbing the pulp or seeds.”

“Boy! For a meth head, she sure is smart!”

“Let’s not stand here indulging in personalities, Bessie! Let’s stop her before she actually tries to throw that watermelon at something!”


Bessie got down on all fours, and, after re-opening the locker door, Terry proceeded to get on her back, as if she were a racehorse and he were her jockey. Completing this illusion was the fact that Terry habitually used a branch on Bessie’s backside like a jockey’s whip, to make her go faster. As if going faster than the speed of sound, her top speed, was somehow possible.

As she often did, Bessie yelped painfully when Terry struck her with the branch, which she did now.

“MUSH!” he shouted, carried away with himself.

“I swear to God…” Bessie growled at him, “if you so much as even try that again…”

“Sorry!” he said, as he threw the stick away.

“Just hang on!” she told him. “You have enough trouble staying on me as it is, without bringing that damn branch into it!”

She floated away easily down the road, leaving a path of flaming tracks in the ground behind her.


Hattie Malatti, a former sex worker who had somehow managed to survive the explosion of a nuclear power plant by becoming radioactive herself, stood angrily facing the increasing cowed police force of the city. Clad in black fishnets and red spandex, with her black hair hanging angrily over her white skin, she growled viciously at the assembled company, who  were afraid to approach her. If she so much as touched any of them- or did anything beyond that- she would obliterate them all. Both she and they knew that perfectly well, and the added factor of the watermelon-bomb she was cradling in her arms added an additional level of tension to the stalemate at hand.

“Try and stop me, pigs!” Hattie snapped, revealing a voice and a mouth decayed and rotting as the rest of her due to her addiction to both crystal methamphetamine and filter tip cigarettes. But the police, as much as they put up a brave front, knew that stopping her was an impossible. They knew full well that only Terry The Turtle and Bessie The Greyhound were made of stern enough stuff to approach Hattie Malatti without threat of severe injury or death to themselves.

Fortunately, our heroes, in a blast of fire and wind, promptly made their appearance directly in front of Hattie, and the police now found that they could relax, for once. Terry and Bessie would soon have things sorted out!

“Hah!” Hattie snorted. “If it ain’t my old reptile buddy- and his faithful steed!”

“You did not just call me that!” Bessie growled, but Terry waived her silent as he jumped off her back.

“Give me the watermelon, Hattie!” he demanded of that worthy.

“NEVER!” she shot back. “The thing’s MINE, Turtle, and you ain’t gettin’ NONE of it!”

“Don’t be difficult!” Terry said. “You know perfectly well that Bessie and I can kick your ass easily- even without touching you!”

“Why ya think I got the damn BOMB in the first place?” Hattie growled. “This is the only way I can stop you without you hurting me! THE ONLY DAMN WAY, hear?”

“No, it isn’t!” Terry countered. “You know perfectly well that there’s all sorts of counselling that you can get to deal with the abuse you suffered- and for all the OTHER addictions you seem to have!”

“I ain’t got no addictions!” Hattie said dismissively.

“That’s your problem- right there!” Terry responded pointedly. “DENIAL! If you could just get past that…”

“DAMN YOU!” Hattie Malatti growled defiantly.

And, before Terry, Bessie, or anyone else could do anything, Hattie Malatti gripped her watermelon-bomb like a football, and shot it directly at Terry’s head.

“NO!” Bessie shouted.

Moving quickly into action, the greyhound leaped into the increasingly narrowing breach that was coming to exist between Terry and the bomb. Within seconds, the watermelon smashed and spattered itself on her pristine white coat, and Bessie, with a yelp, landed painfully on the ground.

“BESSIE!” Terry shouted. “Are you hurt?”

“Never mind me!” she snapped. “The BOMB! Get the bomb and throw it away, idiot!”

“But isn’t the bomb…?”

“It’s OVER THERE!” Bessie pointed to a small black object, covered in watermelon seeds and pulp, that was lying kitty corner from where she lay. “Get rid of it before Malatti gets her paws on it again!” Even now, the villain was coming towards it, intending to gain back her advantage.

Terry knew what he had to do. He did not waste a second doing it, either. He ran towards the bomb, and picked it up, using his advanced mutant strength. Like a shot putter, he held it up, parallel to his head, and then let it go. It soared across the downtown corridor and into the riverfront nearby, displacing water from the river onto the land as it exploded harmlessly.

Terry now turned to a defeated Hattie Malatti, realizing her best efforts had now just been halted.

“It’s over, Hattie!” he said with finality. “You gonna give yourself up, or what?”

“WHAT!” she snapped, and, before he could make another move, she had disappeared down one of the labyrinthine alleys of the city, out of his grasp, again. He went to pursue her, but Bessie, recovering and knowing better, blocked his path.

“Never mind her, Terry!” she said. “We can get her next time!”

“What next time?” Terry said. “This is a one-shot story!”

“THIS IS A ONE –SHOT STORY?” one of the police suddenly realized. “That means that, now that we’ve reached the denouement, the world IS GOING TO COME TO AN END ANY MOMENT NOW!”

And, en masse, the police ran screaming down the opposite end of the street from where Hattie Malatti had just disappeared, leaving Terry and Bessie standing alone in the street.

“Was it something we said?” Terry asked.

Bessie just shrugged. And then the world ended.