anxiety, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, health, ideas

Nostalgia is a Factor

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Rugby Versus Football

A few months ago in Saigon, I watched a rugby match with British friends. It was the 2003 World Cup championship game between England and Australia on YouTube. Most rugby fans argue it was the greatest of all time. Though I didn’t understand the logistics of rugby, it was entertaining. Throughout the game, I would debate with my British friends like I would with some of my Australian, South African, and New Zealand colleagues about which was more exciting to watch between this and American football. Most of them were convinced rugby was better while I was convinced football was. For the longest time, many insisted the latter was a game for pansies because football players wear helmets and padding. Little did they know football players are get hit harder than their rugby counterparts. They couldn’t argue once we watched videos of the different types of tackles. Most rugby players pile atop each other and aim for the lower body. Football players are getting crushed and speared often. It’s like driving a car 20 MPH without a seat belt getting rear ended versus going 50 MPH with a seat belt getting hit in a head on collision. It’s tantamount to cyclones and low-pressure storms. Hurricane Katrina did more damage to New Orleans than Gustav because of how they made landfall. Both were equally powerful, but Gustav sideswiped the Crescent City. Katrina was more devastating because it T-boned the Big Easy. Its storm surge was stronger. The bottom line is you can’t compare the two.

Yesterday, Today, and the Future

This relates to my article the other day about old people whining about how the world today isn’t like it was in the past. The draconian discipline they used when they were young wouldn’t fly in most developed countries. Back in their day, things seemed rosy because nobody talked about the problems they moan about. The divorce and drug abuse rates weren’t as high then as they are now, nor was the income disparity. Baby boomers who scorn millennials about their work ethic or lack thereof didn’t inherit the mess the millennials did. The boomers were spoiled, too, so let’s not kid ourselves here. They were born after World War Ii. None of them lived through the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. Minimum wage was livable when they were young, and the boomers only needed a high school diploma to find a good job not a college degree and experience. The economy wasn’t in the worst shape since the Great Depression when the baby boomers traversed the stage in their caps and gowns. Most of them weren’t overqualified or had to work two jobs to make ends meet. Neither the Gen X’ers nor the millennials were old enough to vote for Ronald Reagan who implemented trickle-down economics. I was in kindergarten when Reagan got elected. Almost every socioeconomic problem in society I hear folks over 50 bellyache over has been around since the time I started school.

The Nostalgia Factor

I think the real factor is nostalgia. The reason I find football more entertaining than rugby is because I was born and raised in Texas. It’s like a religion where I’m from. It stands to reason I would pick football because that’s the sport I grew up with and vice versa. This reminds of the movie No Country for Old Men. The sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones has cognitive dissonance throughout the film. He grows more cynical as he reaches retirement because the man realizes he wasn’t fitted for the times in which he lived. I imagine the Gen X’ers and millennials will share the same sentiment about society after the baby boomers kick the bucket and the iGeneration enters the workforce. I’m sure we’ll claim pop culture is awful and that the music from the next era has no substance and try telling those kids how much more talented Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj were. We’ll rehash how hard things were during the Great Recession and how the Trump Administration wrecked America. Meanwhile, new problems with the environment will emerge. Then we’ll start shaming the iGeneration for using fossil fuels instead of green technology when we’ve had the wherewithal since the 70’s. We’ll place the onus on the iGeneration though the baby boomers and Gen X’ers left massive carbon footprints. Of that I’m certain.

Welcome to Synthwave

This is why I surmise the best way to keep everyone happy and prevent elderly people from losing their minds is with novelties. I got addicted to that show Stranger Things because I grew up during the 80’s. Chronologically, I’d be part of Generation X. However, I was born in 1979 at the tail end and the cusp between Generation X and the millennials. I was raised with the latter, and most of my friends are millennials. The aforementioned program got me hooked because of the musical score, moreover. I’m happy to be alive when synthwave music is popular. For those who don’t know, that’s like new wave music from the 80’s born again during the teens. It’s made a comeback the same way swing did in 1997 with bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Squirrel Nut Zippers. You can’t call it newer wave, so they gave it other names like synthwave, retrowave, and futuresynth. That genre began with the resurgence of the synthesizer from bands like Foster the People and with the musical score from the 2011 crime drama Drive. Bands like The Midnight, Gunship, Electric Youth, and others have followed suit. That music soothes my soul because it reminds me of movies I’d seen during the 80’s with soundtracks by Tangerine Dream and such. Said bands have even had videos paying homage to that era.

How to Live Our Golden Years

For all we know, hair metal and grunge music might make a comeback during the 20s to make middle-aged Gen X’ers feel young again. There have been studies suggesting music helps treat Alzheimer patients. I remember seeing an expose where folks in a nursing home would listen to jazz and other music popular during their youth. It helped trigger memories and kept their neurotransmitters functioning. Therefore, I declare they should have drive-in movie theaters in retirement areas showing classic pictures from their time. If novelties keep us happy and allow us to reminisce about the good old days, I see nothing wrong with this practice. Ultimately, this is where I’ve reached my conclusion towards older people reflecting upon their glory days and the British, Australian, South African, and New Zealand expats favoring rugby over American football. These are the novelties they grew up with, and it’s all they know. The philosophies and customs are what they’re most familiar with. They’re not used to things out of the ordinary which they hadn’t witnessed during their youth. Last but not least, nostalgia is a powerful emotion.

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anxiety, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, psychology, violence

With a Grain of Salt

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Rose-Colored Glasses

Have you ever listened to old people bellyache about modern society and compared it to the past? Did you ever hear them say something along the lines of, “Back in my day we did this and that, and we had A, B, and C and we didn’t do this or that, and there was no X, Y, Z, and everything was grand.” It gets tiring, doesn’t it? Senior citizens always talk about the past with their rose-colored glasses on as if everything was dandy, and then the world went to hell in a hand basket once they reached middle age. I’ve heard this song and dance a thousand times before from my parents and others. That’s because the ‘good old days’ was back when they were young and in their prime. They had more energy and fewer health problems. They were probably out partying, getting laid more, and more in tune with pop culture. They weren’t staring down death’s doorstop. And I’m sure the prior generations never did the same because life was so grand. I had this conversation with my Uncle Michael a few years ago. He concurred and added they weren’t as aware then as they are now. Because they weren’t in tune with all that’s happening is why they’re so cynical.

The Usual Suspects

Almost every problem we hear about on the news didn’t begin yesterday. The real issue is nobody ever talked about it until now for fear of shame and humiliation. They’ve had gang violence in America at least since the Great Depression with Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, and company. The media didn’t make a big deal out of it until the 1980’s the Crips and Bloods emerged with the crack epidemic. Not until we saw dangerous black and Hispanic men and boys in the inner cities carrying automatic weapons did everyone begin lamenting. The crime rate in Chicago is lower than it’s been in sixty years. The number of rapes and sexual assaults in America has decreased 50-percent since 1993, but you would never hear these statistics from the mainstream media, third wave feminists, the NRA, or any of the geniuses in Washington. The violent crime rate in America period has continued to surge since the early 90’s, but most people don’t know this because the number of murders, rapes, assaults, and whatnot being reported has increased.

The Good Old Days

All that clamor with Bill Cosby and Brett Kavanaugh happened during the 70s and early 80s. The other folks mentioned by the #metoo movement like Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey committed sexual harassment at least twenty years ago to my recollection. It’s just nobody discussed this then. This is one reason I loved that show Boardwalk Empire. That program starring Steve Buscemi was about the mayor of a New Jersey town during the Prohibition Era who moonlit as a bootlegger. It showed what took place behind closed doors during the 1920s and 30s and that life wasn’t a bed of roses. Sure, the fashions and music may have been soothing, but I can’t even imagine how difficult things were during the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl. There wouldn’t be enough jazz or swing music to cast away my woes.

Choose Your Battles

Yesterday, at the VA hospital, I had to practice restraint while conversing with two old men. We talked about martial arts before one went on a tangent about Stephen Seagal and wondered why Seagal didn’t make movies anymore. Things started going downhill when I stated the reason Seagal’s more recent movies are all in Eastern Europe and why he’s no longer famous is because he’s been Hollywood blacklisted after several sexual harassment suits filed against him. The guy tried using a strawman argument stating there should be a statute of limitation and that he’d report it right away as if his car were stolen. It did no good when I tried elucidating most people would have discredited those women then because they didn’t have the recourse they do today. The other guy said if he was rich and famous like Seagal and had women throwing themselves at his feet, he’d do the same thing. That’s when I knew it was time to walk away. A few years ago, I would’ve been shocked. I might have even scorned them and told them they’re old enough to know better. I wasn’t surprised, though, seeing this was the VA hospital with military veterans many of whom were lifers. I may be autistic, but I’ve been socialized to know how to choose my battles. I therefore chalked it up as they were just men of their times.

A Grain of Salt

My first gig after graduating college was that of an enumerator during the 2010 census. I remember discussing kids with some 70-something Irish-American retiree from New York I’ll call George. He would regurgitate the same platitudes I heard from every other guy from his generation. George would say, “Back in my day, when I went to Catholic school, the priest swatted us good with a paddle whenever we misbehaved, and it made us tough.” Hogwash I say! Back in your day, people would lose their marbles if they saw a black person living in the same neighborhood or using the same facilities as you or a woman. Back in your day, it wasn’t uncommon for men to get drunk and beat their wives, so let’s not kid ourselves, George. I’m sure those priests expressed their love for children in other ways, but we don’t need to go there. Nobody knew then that corporal punishment causes depression and anxiety and makes kids more aggressive. The general public knew jack about psychology. It might have worked in the short run, but it was detrimental in the long run. I’ll bet the truancy and teenage pregnancy rates were high back then, but I’m sure George and others wouldn’t acknowledge that. While they may be wise and knowledgeable in some areas, many of their ideas I find outlandish and obsolete. This is why I don’t bother explaining autism to most folks over 70 and take what they say with a grain of salt.

anxiety, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, living abroad, politics, psychology, violence

To Hell with Corporal Punishment

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Paddle me This, Paddle me That

In my last blog, I expressed my disdain regarding an elder gent telling me priests would swat the boys good with a paddle if they acted up in his Catholic school. I lived with my father in Long Island during my formative years. I was a boisterous teen with a troubled life then. We didn’t know I was on the autism spectrum. I remember one time I had a meltdown, and Dad got angry. He shouted at me, “If I ever misbehaved like that, my mother would throw me out the window!” Apparently, I was supposed to be lucky to be alive during the end of the 20th rather than fifty years prior. Dad had a short fuse. It didn’t take much to set him off. I wasn’t alive when he was a teenager, but I surmise his parents weren’t very stable. Spanking and paddling was the norm then. There was no ADHD, Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, or such back in the day. One thing I’ve deduced about Western culture is nothing exists until it’s discovered and given a name or it can’t be kept a secret anymore.

A Veteran’s Tale

The problems we face in modern society didn’t go away by being ignored in the past. That reminds me of my last visit to the VA hospital. Every time I go there, I see at least two old men in wheelchairs or using walkers. It makes me worry about mobility impairments as I get older now that I’m staring down 40. My mother elaborated most people from that generation never visited the doctor until they were half dead. Her father had a heart attack in 1990. Grandpa hadn’t had a physical before then since he went into the Army during World War II. It’s hard not roll my eyes when I hear old folks act dismissively about safety precautions and child psychology. Once upon a time, I was an advocate of corporal punishment. I shared the same opinion as them because I was bullied in school, and I too served in the military. I was convinced bullying would go away if they conducted paddling in front of the whole school Singapore-style. Boy was I naive! You’re about to ascertain why I strongly oppose corporal punishment.

Thai me Up, Thai me Down

The reason this bothers me is because I’m guilty of child abuse myself. My first semester in Thailand, I did something egregious I regret to this day. I was inexperienced at my job because I’d never been in charge of children. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was undertrained. The geniuses who ran the agency crammed information into our heads within a three-day period and dispatched us to our schools. All I knew before then was teaching adults. The rocket scientists at the school where I taught were never around when I needed them, and I was left on an island. I was always the last person to know anything because I was a foreign teacher. In a nutshell, it was baptism by fire. I had a hard time controlling my temper because I’d get impatient like my father would. I had the same standards he, my stepmom, and others from his generation that knew jack about autism in that I expected children to act like adults. I hated teaching grades 7 through 9 because the classes were so unruly.

On Top of the Ball

That wasn’t where I made my mistake. I did something heinous in my 6th grade class. All the boys sat on one side while the girls sat on the other. I had no idea that was a recipe for disaster. There was one boy, the rowdiest of the bunch. He went by Ball. I think he might have had ADHD in hindsight. Every day, Ball was bouncing off the walls. One day towards the end of the semester, I lost it. It was the last class of the day, and the kids were getting squirrelly while I was trying to conduct a game. Neither the headmistress nor the principal were around, so I took matters into my own hands. I told the kids to put their heads down on their desks, and Ball wouldn’t oblige. I went to him and held Ball’s head down while the others complied. He kept trying to bob his head up, but I wouldn’t budge. Ball then ran out of the class and never came back. In Thai culture, you’re not supposed to touch someone’s head because that’s the holiest part of one’s body.

An Irrational Misfortune

The next week something worse unfolded. Once again it was the last class of the day. Ball wouldn’t settle down and stop talking. Finally, I’d had it after all his antics. This had been happening all semester long, and I snapped. The boy had to defecate badly, and I made Ball sit in the corner and hold it in. Other boys tried telling me something on Google Translate on my smartphone. What one boy said in broken English translated to, “Ball shit pain!” I was so mad; I didn’t care how uncomfortable he was. So I said back on my app, “The anus is a voluntary muscle. Now since your classmate obviously can’t his fucking mouth shut, he’ll have to keep his butthole shut.” Ball thought everything was a joke up to that point. Then I turned to him and said on the app, “It’s not so fucking funny now, is it, you little shit?!” Eventually, I let him go as the class ended. At the time, I got sick pleasure, but I feel icky about it now. I did something heinous that cost me my job because I was underprepared and frustrated. I was let go by the agency and got what I deserved. There’s not a day or night that passes where I don’t regret what I did.

Bad Teacher, Bad Parents

Not long after, I landed a gig at an all-girls school in Bangkok. There I blossomed because I was surrounded by other Western teachers who shared ideas and techniques. I also had a great mentor who groomed me into a better teacher. None of these luxuries I had in Northeast Thailand, and I wasn’t inclined to make the same mistakes. Two years ago, I induced other questionable methods. When boys were misbehaving and horseplaying, I would have them come up to the front and do push-ups or yoga poses. This was the only way I knew to curtail bad behavior because that’s how I was dealt with in military school and boot camp. I hated both institutions with a passion and was traumatized, but I knew nothing else until I became more seasoned. I remember being assaulted by a teacher on my 14th birthday while living with Dad. The man should have been sacked. I was too young to understand, but I surmise he was placed on administrative leave because we had a substitute for two months. My father did nothing except blame me implying I instigated it. He then said, “I think teachers have no rights and that sometimes they should spank your little bottom in front of the class.” My mother, a then paralegal, would’ve nailed the guy’s balls to the wall, but that didn’t happen.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Classroom management is the hardest part of the job. There’s no question about that. Finally, I adopted some techniques one of my South African colleagues suggested. No longer did I have the boys do yoga poses and push-ups or sitting together. I had the kids sit boy-girl-boy-girl in each row and switch seats periodically. I’d also use peer pressure and reverse psychology. Each group in which they sat would have points deducted when the kids spoke out of turn or got goofy. I’d have them compete with one another, and the two groups that garnered the most points at the end of each class received awards. It didn’t take long to realize a reward system is more effective than discipline. This is one reason I have an estranged relationship with my father and few good things to say about the military. Nothing I did or said was ever good enough to measure up to their standards. No matter how hard I tried, there was nothing in it for me. I didn’t want my students to remember me the way I do my dad or the Coast Guard, so I put my ego aside and changed my ways.

Big Man on Campus

The worst thing that happened in Vietnam wasn’t as bad. I learned how to govern the class before things got out of hand. There was a 16 or 17-year-old blowhard with raging hormones trying to show off in front of his pals. He kept disrupting my class, and I wouldn’t tolerate it. One reason I learned kids act up is because their English level is low. Another is because it’s an elective class not an academic. It didn’t take long for me to deduce he was a troublemaker, so I confronted him the second week. We had a reading assignment. I had him stand up and said, “Guess who gets to read for the whole class, hotshot!” He didn’t see that coming. The boy kept slipping up and butchering the material. I corrected him in the interim. Other students wanted to volunteer, but I said, “No-no-no-no-no! Your classmate here wants to impress all his buddies. He wants to entertain us. Keep going there, hotrod!” He made an ass of himself after I punctured his ego and brought him down to earth. The boy never misbehaved again. Nobody was harmed then. With my new techniques, I had each class wrapped around my finger by the end of each term.

Violence Begets Violence

And so the lesson endeth here. Reverse psychology and reward systems on their worst day are more conducive than corporal punishment. During that time frame, I read spanking and paddling may work in the short run but cause long-lasting psychological effects like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Unbeknownst to my younger self, my father, and many folks from his generation, violence begets violence. The former is how they join gangs and grow up to be serial killers and criminal sociopaths. One reason I quit teaching in classrooms is because I didn’t like the way TA’s would hit the students when they got rowdy. Basically, you’re showing the kids you have no self-control, and I didn’t want that on my conscience. It takes a real man to admit he was wrong, and I’m ashamed of my actions in Thailand to this day. The aforementioned piece is why I think people should be trained properly towards parenting, mentoring, and teaching children.

autism, changes, culture, education, health, ideas, living abroad, politics, psychology, travel

Be Gone Daylight Saving Time

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Ben Franklin Wasn’t Always Right

As an Aspie, I’m finicky about certain things. One is time changes. Daylight Saving Time is one of my biggest pet peeves. Most people credit Benjamin Franklin with its genesis. Franklin spawned something similar, but the concept was in fact postulated by none other than George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist. I get the purpose for which it was intended at the time, but that’s obsolete. They didn’t have streetlights most places when Ben Franklin thought this up. Those were also few and far between during the time of Hudson. Cities like New York, London, and Paris had only gaslights with limited range. Times have changed since 1895. Not only do most cities even in developing countries have sodium lights. Many are graduating unto LED’s which have greater visibility and use less wattage. If LED’s are unavailable, there’s always compact fluorescent bulbs as in the case with France. Even in Paris, they replaced every halogen bulb in the Eiffel Tower with CFL’s to conserve energy. Yes, you read this correctly. There are plentiful ways to save electricity without Daylight Saving Time.

Shine On, Shine Down

Without further ado, most people don’t live in farms or rural areas like they did in the 19th century. Even in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the rest of the developing world, most folks reside in urban areas where there are no farms. No matter the rhyme or reason, you can always make hay while the sun is shining. That’s what alarm clocks are for. The sun will always be up the same amount of time regardless of what methods are induced. Nothing we do can slow down or speed up the rotation of the earth on its axis. If parents are worried about their kids going to school in the dark, there’s no reason why the faculty can’t schedule the school day for later times. As I mentioned, that’s what streetlights and headlamps are for. So far as I know, no vehicle comes without headlights and tail lights. Even bicycles have reflectors on them. Therefore, school buses can still operate no matter the altitude of the sun.

Power to the People

One thing I love about Southeast Asia is they don’t observe Daylight Saving Time. As you can see, the economy here is red hot. As ridiculous as some of their customs seem to me, I can’t deny I’m glad they left the clocks alone. I remember when there was a power outage in California during the summer of 2001. I lived there during that crisis. I was stationed in San Francisco with the United States Coast Guard. California had to borrow energy from Arizona, the one state that doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time. Obviously, they had enough energy in the Grand Canyon State to supply their populous neighbor. Having the sun up one hour later made little to no difference in the Golden State. It was later unearthed Enron was behind that. I don’t know all the logistics, so don’t ask me. All I can say is it pertained to Enron Energy in Texas. Regardless, the neighboring state that doesn’t observed Daylight Saving Time was able to provide a service.

One Day Equals 24 Hours

The United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and a few other western countries are the only places I know that adopted DST. Neither Japan nor any other Asian or African country obliged, and they don’t consume even half the energy America does. Studies have shown Daylight Saving Time causes health detriments like depression, insomnia, and heart attacks. The likelihood of plane crashes, traffic accidents, workplace injuries, and even miscarriages increase. But what do those in favor care as long as they get what they want? This is why I have another solution. I think they should replace Daylight Saving Time permanently what I believe is called Decree Time. Not only am I an advocate of Decree Time; I think we should replace a.m. and p.m. with the 24-hour military clock. I would have noon and midnight be at 1:00 and 13:00 rather than 12:00. The days would thereby crossover at 1:00 in lieu of 0:00, which would now be 24:00. Lastly I declare there should be 48 time zones with half-hour differences to attenuate all issues caused by Daylight Saving Time. If India has its own time zone and manages fine, I don’t see why the other 195 countries can’t function as such.

Welcome Decree Time

I remember watching several Astros games on TV in Austin. It would be nightfall in Houston while it wasn’t yet sundown in Austin. I recall another time in Chicago when I was with AmeriCorps watching a Bears game. They were playing a road game against the Chiefs. It was dusk in Chicago yet broad daylight in Kansas City though they’re both on Central Time. It made no sense to me, but that’s how it was. Earlier this year, I flew to Kuala Lumpur during Tet. Malaysia is in a later time zone than Vietnam though its farther west longitude. It seemed odd to me that the sun in K.L. would set well after 7 p.m. when I was accustomed to it descending not long after 6 living in Bangkok and Saigon all these years. There was a time I liked it better when the sun went down earlier, but I’m vice versa the older I get. Thus, the reason I’m an advocate for Decree Time with either 48 time zones with half-hour intervals; 72 with 20-minute differences; or 96 with 15-minute changes. To avoid confusion, I’d go with the 48 as planes and trains have schedules to which they must tend. I’m thinking like a geographer considering the altitude of the sun and the overall health of the general public.

Good Intentions, Bad Policies

A few years ago, I had a heated debate about this with some narcissistic idiot on Facebook who always had to argue and be right about everything. She insisted we keep the current system. She tried disputing that China is the size of the United States yet has only one time zone. China is also a communist country with a human rights violation record that could stretch around the globe. Most of their population lives in on the east coast. The Chinese government also has a penchant towards marginalizing the Tibetans, Uyghurs, and the rest of their population in the western provinces. I wouldn’t place much credence towards a government that allowed 70 million citizens to starve, has children working in sweatshops, and is responsible for the greatest amount of pollution on Earth. The woman was using a strawman argument. It made no difference when I explained India does well with their own time zone. Her rationale was everyone should be on the same schedule. Finally, I lost patience and told her, “Sure, why not! Hell, while we’re at it, why don’t we all go by Greenwich Meantime worldwide? That way the sun won’t come up in Texas until noon or go down until midnight. They can even use the same schedule in Australia. That way midday in Sydney will actually be midnight while noon is the darkest part of the day. But hey! What do we care as long as the oligarchs get what they want and the whole world functions around their schedule?”

autism, culture, education, health, ideas, living abroad, psychology, travel

Expecting the Impossible

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Learning Center Blues

Last year, I left my second teaching job in Vietnam not long after getting into a heated shouting match with a staff lady I’ll call Sonya. She tried gaslighting me saying my teaching was bad and ineffective. Sonya was being passive-aggressive and a workplace bully thinking I couldn’t read between the lines. This was at a learning center in Bien Hoa, a suburb of Saigon. Towards the end of her litany, she turned around saying I was a great teacher and the students loved me. She wanted to intimidate me making me second guess myself, and I wasn’t biting. This was after the secret was out that I had Asperger’s. Nobody was supposed to know except for my companion, Yael, who deduced it as her brother has it. Yael helped smooth things over after I was told kids complained I was shouting too much and that I was boring. They expected me to smile 24/7 and have more intonation. They didn’t like that I’d get impatient with students sometimes or that I was hypersensitive to high-pitched squealing noises kids made. The headteacher appeared sympathetic but then had my manager at the agency tell me not to bring Asperger’s up again.

No Control, No Redemption

It doesn’t come with an on/off switch. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, either. Denial isn’t a river in Africa. The altercation was my second run-in with Sonya. The other teachers concurred unanimously I was good at my job and that Sonya was out of line. I didn’t feel comfortable telling her about my condition, but it seemed I didn’t have much choice. So Sonya scolded me and saying, “Well, just act like a normal person. Stop having outbursts, meltdowns, or whatever you call them. Try not to be so serious and don’t let the noise bother you.” I was insulted when she made these remarks because it was clear she had no idea what she was dealing with. So I fired back and told her, “Well, just act like a man. Control your monthly cycles, woman. Stop menstruating, ovulating, or whatever you call it. Try not to urinate sitting down and don’t have any hot flashes.” That wasn’t the response she’d hoped for, but I was making a point. She was expecting the impossible from me. Therefore, I returned the favor. Not long after, I started seeking employment elsewhere. I ascertained this was a hostile working environment. I sure as hell didn’t appreciate them berating me like a child or trying to silence me.

What We Know and Don’t Know

Sadly, that wasn’t my first rodeo. This is one of the primary reasons I have limited contact with my two oldest siblings. They were in denial the whole time. My oldest brother thought I chose to be difficult and this was learned behavior. My sister shared the same opinion and got carefree criticizing my mother for coddling me. Sister knew better than anyone (including the doctors who gave me hyperactivity medication.) When I was hospitalized for depression, they both thought I was seeking attention. I remember confronting Sister not long after I received my official diagnosis and my mother suggesting she read about Asperger’s. She then said, “Wow! That sounds so much like Dustin; it’s unreal.” Then I couldn’t resist the urge shouting at her, “Yeah! I know! It’s amazing what you learn when you shut your fucking piehole and listen to your master when he speaks, isn’t it?” Mom scorned me for that, but it’s not like Sister didn’t have it coming, either. That was a cathartic release after years of pent-up frustration due to her intractable disposition. She’s bull-headed like our father. Sister thinks she’s an authority on things with which she has little to no experience. That’s one of the few times I recall her ever admitting she was wrong.

The Vaccine Dilemma

Not long after my diagnosis, the scare about vaccines emerged. That exacerbated everything to say the least. It started in 1998 when Dr. Andrew Wakefield falsified his research about MMR vaccines causing autism. Skeptics jumped on that like white on rice. Jenny McCarthy claimed she cured her autistic son. This part infuriates me most. Not only are there idiots in denial; now there’s charlatans who think it’s curable. Basically, what they’re both saying is that it’s some kind of burden to society. My friend, Nathan, who was lower-functioning had a father convinced holistic medicine would make it disappear. Here’s the thing. I don’t need to be cured. I’m not dying or contagious. It’s not degenerative, venereal, or anything of that sort. Nobody with whom I came in contact contracted it from me. Wakefield had his license revoked after it was unearthed he juked the stats and that he was on the payroll of a large insurance company. The latter alone was a conflict of interest that should have discredited him. Eventually, Jenny McCarthy’s son was discovered to have Landau-Kleffner Syndrome ruling out any possibility of her curing him. Sadly, the anti-vaxxer crowd won’t listen. Anyone who believes a former Playboy bunny over medical practitioners has issues. We all know what they say in Hollywood is the law of the land just like Tom Cruise is the world’s greatest expert on psychotherapy. I’m sure Brooke Shields would agree.

Same Language, Different Accent

Reasoning with the naysayers and anti-vaxxers is like nailing jello to a wall. You can present all the tangible evidence in the world, but it won’t register through their thick noggins. They’re too proud to put their egos aside and admit they may be wrong. That said, I distance myself from them as best as I can. I’m moving back to the West because I’m not going to live in a society where I feel I’m being monitored every day due to my personality quirks and they pressure me into be a cookie cutter person. I’ve been known to hit back twice as hard whenever I’m provoked such as the case with Sonya. Just because my brain isn’t hard-wired like that of the average NT doesn’t mean I’m stupid or defective. It’s like voicing a language. Most of my friends in Vietnam are from the UK. They speak British English while my vernacular is American English. There is no right or wrong way to enunciate the words just because our accents and slang differ. The same is true about folks on the autism spectrum versus NT’s. It’s not a disease; it’s an anomaly.