Archive for February, 2015

A man of ritual

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

People with Asperger are known for being very ritualistic or obsessed with our routines to a point some people could say is almost OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). As an educated male, who is well aware of my patterns and how they could be considered a waste of time, I nevertheless am not immune  horrible at fighting my natural instincts. People with Asperger, however are not alone in our strict adherence to our routines, I am looking at you black hat religious community and how you pray three times a day always at the exact same times. In addition, you could also say that most successful people keep to a pretty strict routine that doesn’t vary very much. They call making sure that your pee breaks don’t last any longer than three minutes or your breakfast doesn’t take longer than ten minutes good time management skills. Therefore, you could even say some of the skills to be successful in any and all endeavours come naturally to us.

My particular routine is that whenever I sit down to a computer the first thing I have to do is check my Facebook and Gmail accounts to see if I have any messages. Not that I am ever expecting important messages I mean, who sends important messages on Facebook. If the only way that you have to get hold of the other person is to send them a Facebook message, no matter how important the message is to you, it really isn’t that important to the other person after all you’re just a Facebook friend. All of my closest kith and kin have my phone number and can reach me on it whenever they want. I will never get a message that one of my friends locked themselves out of their car and they need me to go and pick them up on Facebook. My workplace is never going to try and reach me to over me extra hours on my Facebook account. Yet every single time I sit down to a computer the first thing I do is check my Facebook and then my gmail account for messages.

I can hardly be faulted for wasting my time in this way, however, I mean who doesn’t check their Facebook messages at least thirty times a day, just religious, old people and those who are successful and effective, but that really makes up a small percentage of all the people I know. Heck, being a comedian is all about seeing how people are wasting their time in order to make topical jokes. That and letting our brains wander because the subconscious bored mind is much better at noticing funny idiosyncratic behaviour than someone consciously looking for it. I mean good luck at coming up with a good joke when your mind is occupied with trying to write an essay about the history of the American constitutional system for a paper or when you have other deadlines looming over your head and occupying your thoughts. Therefore, good comedians or artists or philosophers in general are likely to take routine jobs which allow them the time and freedom to let their mind wander wherever it wants to go. Yet somehow I still need get the nagging feeling that I am not making the best use of my time.

Following patterns in our routines makes people feel comfortable because it allows us to know what will happen next. We hate having our routine messed with, but, so do lots of people. I doubt if you drove a business executive into the middle of the woods and took away all of his communicating devices he would be very happy either. He would especially be unhappy when you hit him over the head multiple times so you could put a black mask over his face and not let him see where he was going. It would take him a long time to get his life back in order, emotionally and physically as he tried to figure out a way of getting out of there and making his way back home or his routine activities. In addition, his brain would take some time to adjust back to his old routine. Therefore, routine things like driving that used to be relaxing and allow your mind to drift while you problem solved obstacles that occurred in your week or day take longer to return to old habits.

That is sort of how we feel when we miss our favourite television shows or someone sits in our seat in front of the television while watching a sporting event. It leaves us wondering what would have happened if we were sitting in our seat. Would the result be any different? Would our team be winning instead of losing the game? Would our favourite player made a good play instead of turning the ball/puck over? This can keep us awake at night thinking about how different things would have gone if our routine hadn’t been changed. Then we started thinking that we were overdramatic and question if we made too big of a deal over nothing. Maybe the results would have been the exact same and therefore we owe everyone an apology for throwing a tantrum and a plate against the wall. Maybe we should have cleaned up the mess we made. Then we convince ourselves that we were in the right and were justified in our actions. After all fate is not something that should be trifled with lightly. All the meanwhile, you are distracted from what you should have been thinking about which was what to do about the school bully, or the girl who you have a crush on and totally froze and became tongue-tied when trying to ask her out.

It is also hard to establish, change or break routines. I mean if I could create a better routine every time I sat down at a computer than checking Facebook, like writing a few new jokes or an article I would. I just am obsessed that someone is going to write me a message telling me something I need to know or invite me to something and that it will be time sensitive so they’ll need me to get back to them right away. That or check how many people liked my last Facebook status because I am egotistical like that. Generally there has been no change and that nothing in my world has really changed. You just never know. However, after you have started doing something routinely it is pretty hard to break and then start a new routine. Just ask all the people with weight problems about that. Smoking is the same principal once you become addicted to a way of doing something or doing it at all it is pretty hard to break. I mean I tried to quit using Facebook a million times, but, have simply been unable to cut down or break the filthy habit. It just makes me feel so dirty about myself afterwards. Knowing that everyone else is having a better time than me or seeing the stupid motivational quotes that mean nothing like. Like believe in yourself, or you will never know how great you really are. Boring. I mean there are a million diets out there to help you break your food habits but very little out there about how to break your technological habits. The only options that seem to be offered are to cut down gradually or to quit visiting social media sites cold turkey. Two options compared to the millions for changing your eating habits.

Another one of my routines is eating a banana every morning before I do anything else. Turns out bananas are very good for your mood and help explain why I am less grouchy afterwards. This is no different than anyone else who needs to start their morning off with pop tarts coffee or meth. Okay, well, it’s very different than the last one. I mean people who start their morning off with meth generally have a hard time getting to their jobs on time or paying any of their bills. Other than that the three are all the exact same, while, except for the fact that bananas are the only one that is actually good for you.

My point in all this is that I really don’t understand when people complain that people on the Autism spectrum are obsessed with routines as if it’s a bad thing.

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I would like to say a few words in acknowledgement of a noble profession, one that does not get nearly as much respect as it deserves.

There have been people involved in this profession as long as films began to talk, which was exactly when their services began to be needed. And they haven’t stop talking since.

I am talking specifically about animation voice actors.

What, you say? What is that? Allow me to explain….

Voice actors are responsible for giving animated cartoon characters their voices. But their role does not simply end there. Writers may create their dialogue, and artists their physical appearance, but voice actors are responsible for filling in all of the blank spots within. They give the characters their hearts, their souls, their personalities and everything else which makes them appealing and sympathetic to an audience. In few other forms of acting is the actor so responsible for so totally immersing themselves into creating a personality for a personage that would not be functional or likeable without their input. Animation may have existed before sound, but its appeal was substantially enhanced by a number of amazing talented performers who did- and still- invest these mere drawings and sketches with the ability- for a while, anyway, to be true and understandable people in the eyes of the audience.

Okay, David, you say, if they are so important, why don’t I know who they are?

Well, that has a lot to do with the fact that animation itself has been considered a marginal art form until fairly recently. Consequently, the idea of actual “acting” existing in it beyond the odd shout, war whoop or cowbell on the soundtrack has been something that has taken even longer to be accepted. Because these people only used their voices, and not their bodies, to act, somehow they are not considered “real” actors and their work has been neglected.

I know better, though.

I have been an animation junkie from my earliest days, and, early on, I learned first hand about the importance of quality acting to the complete effect of the total animation immersion experience. It was the characters’ voices that gave me the essentials of their personality, in ways their outward appearance alone could only suggest. It was the characters’ voices that allowed me to distinguish heroes from villains, and cheer and hiss them respectively. It was also the characters’ voices that made me aware of the way their worlds worked- matters of gender, politics etc. as they existed in the narratives- and by extension, how they worked in the wider world as well. The voice of the cartoon character is equal to the eyes of the human being- the metaphorical window of the soul. And many of those souls are well worth knowing.

When I learned about acting and the theater in high school and college, I began holding the animation voice actor in higher regard. Totally immersing yourself into a role on stage and screen is one thing. But simultaneously playing as many as five or more roles at once in one series, as so many of the greats can handle, is something else entirely. Especially when this role-crossing behavior obliterates seemingly firm categorical differences like gender, race and ethnicity in the process!

I admired the voice actors of the world when I was younger, and I admire them still. They have the advantage of being involved in Hollywood while still having normal lives. We hear nothing about them signing multi-million dollar deals (though I’m sure they’d like them), nor anything about them being pursued relentlessly by the paparazzi. They are private people who happen to be involved in a very public profession, that’s all. But they perform that profession brilliantly and fans like me take their work directly to their hearts. And I’m sure that’s what they want, too.

The greatest tribute I can provide them, though, is the fact that, as a writer, I use their voices regularly as a recognition thumbprint to help me create my characters on a regular basis. A lot of my characters were inspired directly by listening to their performances, and the voices continue following me as I write my little attempts to equal their great achievements in sound. No matter how much I try to make them sound differently, when I write dialogue for my characters, they always end up sounding like my particular favorite voice actors in the end. If that’s not some kind recognition of how indelible animation voice acting can be on one person’s psyche, I don’t know what is.

It’s with these sentiments that I metaphorically raise my glass to my real life heroes, the animation voice actors, the once and future unknown stars of Hollywood.

David Perlmutter is a freelance writer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he has lived his whole life. His passions are American television animation (the subject of his MA thesis and a projected historical monograph), literature (especially science fiction and fantasy) and music (rhythm& blues, soul, funk and jazz.) This explains why much of his writing is as nonconventional and defiant as it is. He is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome, but considers it an asset more than a disability.

Annette is one of the runner up for the writing contest the Manitoba Writer’s Guild and Free Press had. I met her at the award ceremony.

Having Friends                                                                                                        Annette DeWit

It is normal and healthy for people to want to have friends. Sadly, for some of us, making friends seems to be an almost insurmountable obstacle. After all, if you aren’t even sure if you like people, why would anyone else want to like you? Besides, other people aren’t always all that interesting. They make jokes you don’t understand, talk about boring things that don’t matter, say one thing and mean something else entirely different… People are hard. Being alone is safe, and much, much easier. And less tiring.

And in this way we convince ourselves, and so pursue our interests and hobbies; sharing them on the internet in fine anonymity, or with our families, who are used to us and only half listen.

Nobody wants to be alone. Even if a person wants to be left alone, most of the time, no one really wants to be all alone all the time.

I am a thirty year old woman with Aspergers Syndrome. Now, as an adult, I have the privilege of sharing my life with a handful of very good, even a few very close, friends. I would say they didn’t come easily, but mostly, they came purely by accident, on my part at least. I have never set out to deliberately make friends. I don’t know how; I don’t even really understand what constitutes a friend. But I do know what friends are.

I know the friends I have are valuable and indispensible to my life.

As a child, I had a few friends in school, a neighbor/cousin whom I grew up with, and a couple of classmates who shared one interest with me, and tolerated my oddities for the sake of that commonality. Since then, most of those relationships have faded to a sort of distant, “hey, glad we are both still alive,” sort of benign interest, and not much more. That’s okay.

My friends now are those, mostly older than me, who knew and liked my siblings, and knew and tolerated me in the sort of distant way older sibling’s friends view little sisters, amicably, but not with any particularly strong affection most of the time. However they tolerated my oddly adult way of speaking, and endless fountaining of bits of information, and even showed a considerate interest from time to time.

Now, those shared interests and past gentle tolerance have grown into a genuine respect and affection for each other, growing from common interests, rooted in really caring, and embracing the differences previously mildly accepted.

From each of my friends I receive open-handed acceptance and even welcoming of my assorted eccentricities. My friends like me, not in-spite of, or because I am Aspergers, but simply for all of me. The way my mind works is just a character trait, occasionally to be laughed with, sometimes requiring gentle guidance. I love it when they ask me “What do you know about?… Have you seen?… What is there? What have we missed?” or especially, What do you see?” in the sure knowledge that there will be an answer.

I love it that I can bring a unique and colorful new view to their world as well.

My friends know and understand my limits, and challenge me to grow beyond them without scaring me or making me feel pressured. I don’t feel I will lose their respect or love if I fail, or if I can’t try something.

We talk. Not about random gossipy things that mean little and matter less, but about real things, about anything under the sun, and when the conversation gets de-railed, they go with it, and laugh. Wonderfully, we can start back from where we got off track and carry on the original point without any of us losing a beat. It’s like “red1, red2, red3, (-purple/green/orangish,-) red4, … and no-one minds.

I was discussing school and a struggling daughter of my friend with her one day, when a butterfly flew between us.

Me, “Look! Butterfly!”

My friend, laughing so hard she staggered, “Really?!”

Me, “What?” a pause, “For real! It’s right there,” pointing.

She, “Pretty. I honestly didn’t see it at first, sorry”

And we carried on. Later, we laughed a lot. I know I am a bit (read extremely) distractible. Hey, easily amused, never bored. I often joke that I live in a way cooler world than ordinary people. My friends count on me to point out the fascinating bits that they miss. In return, they explain bits that I miss. Especially answering things like “What does that mean? Why did they do that? Is he mad or scared?”

Have you ever watched ‘How to Train Your Dragon’? In the movie, Gobber, the blacksmith guy is explaining to Hiccup, our hero, how to be better accepted by the Viking tribe. He gestures to Hiccup and says something like “You just have to be less, this,” to which Hiccup replies, “You just gestured to all of me!” Gobber answers, “Exactly.”

Much later, and after many trials and adventures, Gobber says to Hiccup, “It turns out we just needed more,” a sweeping gesture, “this.”

Hiccup, “You just gestured to all of me!”

To me, a big part of the movie is Gobber learning to be a good friend. Friends don’t say to each other, you need to be someone else. They say, “YOU are my friend.”

Gobsmacking the Queen

Posted: February 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

The article below reflects the thoughts of the author and opinions and are not necessarily endorsed or shared by Autistic Productions.

   Gobsmacking the queen

            All is not right in the kingdom and no matter how well she has done representing all of us the problem starts with the royalty the queen herself. When I say kingdom I really mean the Autism-Asperger community and when I say the Queen I am obviously referring to Temple Grandin herself. While the title of Queen has been bestowed by myself there is really no denying it. Yes, the woman has very little Royal aspirations and certainly dresses more like a pauper in her cowboy boots and shirt and pants, which definitely needs updating, yet, there is no denying her power. While Hans Asperger may be the person who discovered the Autism spectrum and is the one Aspergers is named after, there is no one who is seen as more of an expert or is more closely associated with the spectrum than Temple Grandin. Whenever there is any question or need of statement or royal proclamation about the Autism spectrum everyone knows to turn towards, heck the power and fame she wields In fact, practically make her a D-list celebrity in the mainstream culture, all of her books have been best sellers she has even had a movie made her life. I also couldn’t think of anyone who could represent the community better than her.

There is no easy or pleasant way of finding fault with her. Unfortunately, what I have to do now to take her down a peg. Nevertheless, I do it with the most reverence and respect, I mean who am I to challenge or find fault in her, I am not even a charming dashing good looking rascal like Robin Hood, therefore no one will want to listen to what I have to say, but the truth is, some of her lifestyle choices have hurt the community.  The lifestyle choice that I refer to is one she made very early on in her life at age 11 while she was at boarding school she took a vow of celibacy so the nuns would give her more independence. Children make stupid decisions, I would not want anyone to scrutinize every decision I made as an eleven year old, therefore; it makes me squirm to question her decision. I mean after all as an eleven year who is actually interested in sex and furthermore if you are going to be the Judas more freedom is a better sweet deal. The problem is that the vow wasn’t like every New Year’s resolution out there, where you vow to the gym more and within two weeks have already broken it and don’t really care about it. No she has never broken this vow and there has never been any interview where it sounds like she ever struggled with it. Therefore, people not understanding the Neurotypical condition and seeing her think that all people with Aspergers are asexual. The one television character most often assumed to be on the spectrum, Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory, even calls sex coitus for crying out loud. Do you know who calls it that? People who are not having any and don’t have much interest in it and how inhumane is that?

Everyone thinks about sex. Scientists figured out that the average male thinks about sex every ten seconds, waste of a science grant, but there you have it. Granted some people think about i more than others, also some people have it more than others. The only real difference between people on the Autism Spectrum and Neurotypical is the amount that we get to have it.  Most males on the spectrum tend to lose their virginity later than Neurotypicals, go longer periods between having it, and tend to have less sex partners. We tend not to pick up on the signals that make one-stands picked up at the bar possible and tend not to gel with Neurotypical females as easily. Furthermore, females with Aspergers tend not to associate with others on the spectrum as much at least not in this town, because females have advanced social skills and therefore fit in better as Neurotypicals than their male counterparts.

The advantages other disabled groups have earned such as the right to receive assistance to be able to have the same experiences as everyone else, and subsidies that go along with it, nevertheless have not carried over to the Autism community and sex.

I think that there needs to be government assistance in this regard such as creating a fund or a tax write-off for people on the spectrum hiring prostitutes. I also don’t mean street walking prostitutes as this would ruin the experience. I think sex should be enjoyable and therefore, the fund or tax-write off should be large enough that people can afford higher end call-girls. I am not saying that it is necessary to hire the companions that millionaires have, we don’t need to go overboard here, but they also shouldn’t have to hire an underage girl or someone’s toothless grandmother that work off of the street. Many of these girls are not in their position, out of choice, but rather necessity which would ruin someone’s first time. The thought running through your head during the act should not be, God I wonder what awful choices they made leading them up to this point. I wonder what their home life was like and whether they ran away or whether someone is taking advantage of them. At that point there are many things that are more pleasant than this experience such as clipping your toenails or doing your taxes.  While there are many nymphomaniacs who are educated and are simply making money off of their passion who are working in a slightly higher bracket. Some of these girls are even university-educated, but, simply have no interest in doing porn. There is no reason why the government couldn’t even pay for the whole girlfriend experience where the two people get to know each other better before the sex, even if it is even just going to AppleBees or Dennys.  Is that too much to ask for? I think not.