Opinion page by Duane Alan Hahn.
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Page Table of Contents
Below is a list of supplements I've tried that seem to help me in various ways:
Remember, the supplements listed above are not a cure for Asperger's Syndrome, but they do seem to help me get along better with 'normal' people most of the time. You can view most of the other supplements I take by clicking here.
Some of the things I mention may not have anything to do with Asperger's Syndrome. Since I only know what it's like to have my brain, I listed everything I thought might be helpful. I tried to keep out what I've heard is commonly shared by most 'normal' people.
My family slowly realized that I had some kind of problem, especially around the time I was eight years old. We've had many possible answers from doctors over the years:
In the middle of July 1999, a family friend read an article about Asperger's Syndrome in the paper and it seemed to describe me so she showed us the article. At first, I thought she said "Ass Burgers." We looked up information about Asperger's at the library and on the Internet and it seemed that my problems were closer to Asperger's than anything else we've found. We thought maybe now we could finally get some real answers instead of the uninformed ramblings of supposed educated doctors and other professionals.
After I found out about Asperger's, I called two psychologists who tested me in the past and I asked them if they thought I had Asperger's. One never heard of it and the other one heard of it but didn't believe in it. He actually believed that it's a fake disorder made up by doctors trying to make more money. At least doctors who 'believe' in Asperger's have some useful answers. That non-believing quack took 800 dollars from my family that we really couldn't afford and gave us no answers. If he ever reads this, maybe he'll feel guilty and will give that 800 dollars back with interest.
I finally got officially tested for Asperger's in 2001 and they said that "such behaviors and pattern of skills are consistent with the diagnosis of high functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome to a mild degree."
When I was 2 years old, I slipped while running at my aunt's house and hit the upper back of my head on her hard terrazzo floor (polished marble and cement). I still have a flat spot from that fall. I've been told that fall could have caused my Asperger's Syndrome and my depth perception problems. Judging by where the flat spot is and what I have found on the Internet, it seems the injury was to my parietal lobe.
It seems the sensitivity I have to many things mentioned below has something to do with sensory defensiveness which includes tactile defensiveness, oral defensiveness, visual defensiveness, auditory defensiveness, and olfactory defensiveness.
The rest of this page describes some of the problems I've experienced in case it's helpful in some way.
When I was around four years old, I noticed that I had the problem of staring at a wall and not being able to move. I wanted to get up and go do something but it was like I was frozen. I estimate that it would last from a few minutes to a half an hour. I did it less as I got older and now it hardly ever happens.
When I was younger, if someone said something I didn't understand because they said it in a different musical pattern than I was used to, I would sometimes ask them to repeat it a few times before giving up and pretending to understand them. I still pretend to understand people sometimes, especially with strangers because I've learned that most people hate it when you don't understand them. The speech in TV shows and movies can be hard for me to understand, so I'll use the closed captioning. And forget about most popular music from the last 4 decades. I need to look up the lyrics, but the lyrics you can find on the Internet are usually mangled in parts, so it's kind of useless.
I have always been distracted by sounds coming from everywhere. I can hear things and smell things that most people can't. Many stores, especially in the 1980s, used some kind of fluorescent lighting in their jewelry cases that made me want to scream. It felt like it was drilling a hole in my brain. Not many stores use that kind of lighting now, but sometimes there still will be some old store using it.
I have allergies and smells bother me more than the average person. I can also smell when something is getting moldy or musty a long time before most other people can.
Headaches, lung pains, and sometimes nosebleeds can will happen from breathing things like perfume, smoke, mold, cut grass, some flowers and weeds, and cleaning products.
I also have to breathe air that is as cold as possible. I can breath the best if I stick my face in the freezer when it's blowing cold air.
I can feel when a fly lands anywhere on my skin including the hair on my head. I hate to touch certain types of paper, cardboard, Styrofoam, and unfinished wood. I also don't like touching dry human skin. I can touch skin that is wet or moisturized without a problem. (For any ignorant scumbag trolls out there, I did not say I was afraid of any of that stuff. I said I hate to touch them.) I can only wear clothing that is at least fifty percent cotton. I also can't stand wool and turtlenecks. And as you would expect, I don't like most people to touch me.
I like the energy and lights of malls, amusement parks and places like that (with all of the people walking around and doing stuff) but I don't like being noticed and having to interact with people. If I could be invisible, that would be great.
I know that some 'normal' people like to people watch, but I'm not talking about that. I don't care about watching the people, I just like being around the activity or excitement.
Below are foods that I dislike and some that I hate with a passion. The list is in alphabetical order.
There are very few fresh vegetables that I like, but I hate canned vegetables even more. I think creamed corn might come directly from Satan's air sickness bag. Canned greens have a really nasty smell.
I can stand a few tiny pieces of extra-sharp Cheddar cheese around Christmas time. Speaking of Cheddar cheese, I hate it on pizza. On the rare occasions when I have pizza, I only like the golden brown cheese you will find on a well-done pizza made of normal pizza cheeses.
I also hate melted cheese sandwiches. I don't see how anyone can eat American cheese (cold or melted) without vomiting.
Cheeseburgers are nasty! I'm tired of people assuming that all Americans eat cheeseburgers. You can ask for a plain burger and they'll still stick cheese on it 75 percent of the time. I'm glad I rarely eat hamburgers so I don't have to deal with all of those cheesy people.
This is another thing that most people are supposed to love, but I can't stand. It has a sharp smell that is similar to the nose-burning stench of unwashed mountain people that used to ride on my school bus.
Don't like it. Never will.
I don't care how good they say it supposedly is for you. That info could change with the next scientific study. I'm not eating this bitter, nasty stuff.
I don't like scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, deviled eggs, egg salad and so on. I can barely stand a fried egg if the white part is fried thin and crispy, but I hardly ever eat them.
This lumpy gloop is worse than rice. Horrible smell, flavor, and texture.
I've always hated honey. I don't know how anyone can stand it.
Cold jiggly congealed yak snot.
Ketchup smeared all over a plate really stinks after someone gets done eating. A little ketchup on hamburgers or hot dogs isn't bad, but I don't dump it all over everything like some people and I don't dip french fries in it.
Macaroni and cheese tastes as bad as it smells. Macaroni salad is nasty and people stirring it reminds me of what it might sound like if someone cut open a dog, reached their hands in and played with its intestines. I also don't like macaroni in spaghetti sauce.
I don't like lumpy salsa or melted cheese, so either way, these suck.
I hate these almost as much as I hate macaroni.
Maybe people put so much goop on them that they can't really taste them. Pancakes taste nasty to me no matter how much stuff is poured all over them.
Seems like this stuff is made out of antimatter. I like the smell of spearmint and I could stand spearmint gum before they ruined it years ago, but it seems like every part of my being is allergic to peppermint.
I don't know if it's because they feed marigolds to their chickens, but the meat never tastes right. It tastes like it might be some kind of science experiment crossing tofu with baseball gloves.
Yuck. I don't like sliced pickles or the big ones that look like a throbbing alien appendage.
Potatoes taste like blood. I can't stand baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato salad, tater tots and just about any other potato related food. I don't like the smell of potatoes, but canned potatoes have an extra stink of their own that smells 10 times worse. I can eat thin, crispy French fries (if they are new and hot) and some types of kettle cooked potato chips if they aren't overcooked. I like kettle cooked potato chips that have 'bubbles' on them. I don't like kettle cooked potato chips that are flat like a regular chip or the ones that are folded over.
Pickle confetti. No thanks.
I hate the smell, taste, and feel of rice. I can eat it if it's processed into something like Rice Chex or Puffed Rice.
I don't like SPAM or anything similar to SPAM. Just the smell right out of the can is sickening, but the smell of fried SPAM is enough to make vomit shoot out of your ears.
I've heard from many different sources that most people have the ability to remember things and play them back in their minds. Most people can supposedly play back still pictures, moving pictures, shapes, colors, smells, sounds, tastes, touch, and words.
I can't play back those kinds of things in the normal way. If you ask me to remember something that happened, I can usually tell you most of what happened, but the information comes from an invisible blob of knowledge. There are usually no pictures, sounds, smells or anything like that. It's like a cloudy confused mess of plain facts that are jumbled closer to the actual event, gets clearer in detail after awhile, then slowly jumbles and fades away again. I have a bad short term memory and only a good long term memory for trivial things.
I have a hard time recalling, bringing up something from my memory on my own, but my recognition memory is usually better than average. I'm usually the first person to recognize an actor under tons of makeup. I was great at multiple choice tests at school, but give me the same test without the choices and it's almost impossible for me to find the information in my head unless it's something really easy.
It seems like I have almost no ability to retain useful information. I have to basically start from scratch every time I try to do just about anything. Have you ever seen the movie Clean Slate starring Dana Carvey? I'm not that bad, but I'm pretty darn close when it comes to remembering anything useful. I have to relearn just about anything that's worth doing. Taking notes would help for the next time, but I usually think "there is no way I could forget this" and then I do.
I can only remember colors of familiar objects. I don't see the colors in my mind, I just know the colors of most basic things from experience.
Some people say that they only dream in black and white. I know for sure that I dream in color, I just can't remember things in color while I'm awake.
Most of the time, I can only remember that something exists. I can't bring up a picture of the object in my mind. The times when I can bring up the shape of something from my mind, it kind of looks fuzzy, faded, and black and white. If you've ever stared at that famous picture of Abraham Lincoln then stared at a white wall, you can get an idea of how I remember things visually.
The strange thing is that once in awhile I will have a few second playback of things that happened in the past. They seem to be in color but I can't tell what the colors are. It must be great If other people can remember things in moving color all of the time.
Update January 2008: I was able to take supplements more regularly starting in 2003 and it seems that my moving picture memory playback has improved since then. I can remember more 'video clips' from my past now. Sound isn't usually a part of the clips and I still can't pick out specific colors, but the clips seem to be in color. I have been told that most 'normal' people's memories are from a third-person perspective, so it might be helpful to know that any video clip memories that I have are from the first-person perspective that I had at the time (the way I originally saw things).
Update February 12, 2019: Looks like I have a form of Aphantasia. Amazing that it took so long to stumble upon it.
It's almost impossible to play back voices and most sounds in my mind, but I can play back music and singing. Orchestra music such as movie soundtracks play back the best. I can only play back small segments at a time though. It's usually the same or a slightly improved version of the original.
I can only play back music that I'm familiar with. I have to hear a song many times before it will play back and then the voice of the person singing isn't really singing recognizable words, it's more like listening to music in another language with a few understandable words thrown in.
Sometimes a piece of a song will play back in my mind and I'll wonder why and then I figure out that the words of that song match the situation I'm in or what I'm doing. It's like my subconscious mind is trying to communicate with me the best way it can.
I have spontaneous smell memories a few times a year, but that's all. I can recognize a smell, but I can't consciously access a smell stored in memory. The same is true for taste. I'll have spontaneous taste 'flashbacks' a few times a year, but the rest of the time, I can only recognize tastes when I eat something.
I've heard that most people can play back a memory of the smell and taste of food they see in food commercials. When a commercial comes on that shows some kind of food I like, the carefully constructed images designed to make me recreate the taste and smell of the food doesn't work on me. If the average person really can remember the smell and taste of the food in commercials, no wonder companies pay huge amounts of money on commercials so they can control people with their own memories.
Since it's hard for my brain to remember things like taste and smell, it seems to use flags or registers for just about everything. Anything I could possibly have an opinion about has its own register, (similar to a computer), which seems to have seven conditions which run from negative three to positive three.
Even though I have these registers for every item, sometimes the register for an item gets misplaced or gets reset back to undecided and I'll have to ask someone what my preference used to be.
I don't see how people remember touch, but some supposedly do. I've heard that some people, especially actors, can also remember what it's like to be hot or cold. Actors can also remember emotional events and use them in a scene. I heard a child actor say to Johnny Carson that when he has to cry, he remembers when his dog died, then he can cry whenever he wants. I can't do any of that.
A lot of the self-help books and tapes by people like Anthony Robbins don't work on me either. You have to be able to visualize things and move them around in your mind and you also have to put yourself into different emotional states. Those kinds of books and tapes are for a much different person than I am. No wonder actors love Anthony Robbins so much. His stuff sounds like it was made to work just for them.
Many times a day, since I was a kid, I've had trouble finding the word I want to say or type. It's usually a word that I use all of the time. I can describe what it is and even point to it if it's an object in the room, but I can't find it's name in my memory. It reminds me of mental stuttering. The problem might be related to Dysnomia or nominal aphasia/amnesic aphasia.
My spelling abilities also come and go. Sometimes I can type in a page of information with no spelling errors and other times I will spell the same word three different ways on the same page.
I can do a repetitive activity for a certain amount of time with no trouble and then I'll forget what to do for a few seconds, to a few minutes. This seems similar to my word accessing problem. It can be any repetitive activity that I like or dislike.
I even have trouble playing a video game or using a computer. I'll be pressing the same buttons or selecting the same items with a mouse pointer and then I'll forget what a button does or what an icon does or means. After a few seconds or minutes I'll usually remember again.
I think that everyone should make lists but many people don't seem to need them. I have a hard enough time remembering one thing I'm supposed to get, I don't see how people remember five or more things.
From the time I was around six years old, I was amazed by the memory abilities of most other kids. A mother could tell her kid to buy a certain amount of things at a corner grocery store, and the kid could remember what to buy from being just told once and would come back with everything he or she was told to get.
I can't remember lists because I forget most of it or my brain replaces and rearranges things. The first time I consciously realized that I had a problem was when I was eight years old. My mother told me to go to a small local store to buy a bag of shredded coconut. After I got to the store, I had one of those anxiety feelings where you feel like you're going to cry because I couldn't remember the name of the thing I was supposed to get. I remembered it was white and after agonizing over it for a while, I bought a bag of white rice.
My problem with lists also shows up if I repeat a list of numbers when given a test. If I can just concentrate on hearing the sound patterns and rhythms of the test giver's voice, without trying to visualize the numbers, I can usually repeat them with few errors. But, if I try to see those numbers on the watery blackboard of my mind, I have a lot of trouble.
It's sort of like the person giving the number test writes the list of numbers on the boards of a rickety rope bridge, then tells me to walk across the bridge and read the numbers out loud as I go. The bridge starts to crumble behind me and some boards drop out in front of me from the vibration. By the time I get to the other side, very little is left of the bridge and the test giver doesn't understand why I can't cross the bridge again and read the numbers backwards.
Unless it's something simple like LOL, I have a hard time remembering acronyms, abbreviations, and mnemonics. Assembly language uses mnemonics that I just can't remember. BASIC programming is easier for me because the commands are usually words that are spelled out. My mother helped me learn BASIC programming on the Commodore VIC-20 in 1983 and I've been using batari Basic off and on since around 2005. I can remember simple commands such as goto and if-then, but I usually need to look up anything else and copy and paste from the batari Basic Commands page. I also use Visual batari Basic's auto-complete feature when I can remember enough of a command.
It's hard to get people to understand that most things I do involve a ton of copying and pasting. I can't just sit there and type in code. That's why the index on the batari Basic Commands page is getting close to being like a reverse dictionary. I look up something related to what I need and obliquely find the command or whatever it is, then copy and paste the code into my program.
My memory reminds me of puzzle pieces. Sometimes whole sections of the puzzle are together, which means that I can remember a nice chunk of the past, and other times the pieces are totally scattered and some are even temporarily lost under a seat cushion. I never know how much I might remember from day to day.
I'm farsighted and have esophoria or esotropia which means one of my eyes is positioned inward a little. Each eye turns off and on in a continual fight with each other for domination which gives me constant eyestrain and I see things flat (like when you watch TV). I've read that at least twelve percent of all humans have some kind of binocular vision problem. When I take the Framing Game test (holding up a thumb and focusing at a dot on the screen) 'both' thumbs are transparent then one is normal looking and the other is faint then they both go transparent again and they constantly change that way the whole time. This explains why I can't see in 3D, have a hard time reading, and have constant pain. (I discovered in 2005 that Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil usually eliminates that pain.)
I also have a wide field of vision, which means that my peripheral vision is better than a lot of people (the visual field ends about where my ears start). I have a hard time focusing on one thing and it seems like my brain tries to pay attention to everything at once. I have a hard time trying to find things at places such as the library because there are so many colors, words, and shapes.
The only eye doctor I ever went to that could understand my problems was in 1985. He gave me glasses with partial prisms that allowed me to see in 3D for the first time in my life and the pain I had in my eyes finally went away. It was hard to walk while wearing them for a while. I could see and feel the space between objects which was weird. The only time I ever came close to seeing in 3D was while looking through good quality binoculars or a View-Master.
One thing I don't understand is that even though I got to see in 3D, all of my dreams stayed flat. I never even got to have one dream in 3D.
Six months to a year after I got the glasses, they stopped working. The doctor was in a different state and we didn't have any money anyway, so I never got to go back to his office. Most of the supposed 'doctors' I've been to since then didn't do the same tests and didn't take as much time. Maybe one day I'll be able to get a good quality eye exam again instead of what has been perpetrated by deficient doctors that I've been sent to over the years.
I was tested by a couple of eye doctors when I was a teen, trying to figure out what was wrong with my eyes. One of the things we found out for sure was that I have a very wide field of view, supposedly wider than the average 'normal' person. Hold your arms straight out to the side and move them forward about a half an inch. That's my field of view. I see everything in that range and have a hard time filtering anything out. When I play a game, I don't just see the little guy I'm controlling, I see the whole screen and everything else in the room that is in my field of view. It's nearly impossible for me to concentrate and focus on one thing and block everything else out. That's one of the reasons why Jeff Mintery LSD style effects bother me. Besides the effects making it harder for me to concentrate, things like strobe lights and flashing screens hurt my eyes.
In the mid 1990s, an Ophthalmologist I was sent to didn't believe in esotropia or esophoria. He said I should just learn to live with the pain because he couldn't see anything wrong with my eyes. I spent more time in this guy's waiting room than I did in his examination room. I've been told by many people that Ophthalmologists don't know as much as Optometrists and I have no doubt about that because after I told this quack that I used to have glasses that relieved my eyestrain which also made me see in 3D, he didn't want to hear about it. He just kept saying that I should learn to live with it.
The statement, "learn to live with it" is often used by the unenlightened because it's so much easier than being up-to-date on the latest studies and technology. Most well-adjusted professionals with comfortable lives have no clue what it's like to have various problems, so they spout their stale, ignorant, one-size-fits-all drivel and double-talk. The main problem with most of these people isn't that they want you to learn how to live with your problems, it's that they think you can instantly become 'normal' just by willing it.
You can't let people with no imagination and an outdated education talk you out of looking for answers. Many of the doctors and other professionals I've seen so far seem to leave college with the idea that their education is over. People like that cannot be trusted. If they're not up-to-date, they're useless. People who aren't that sharp are never on the cutting edge.
In January of 2004, I got new glasses. The constant eyestrain I was having was almost all gone when I wore them, but I still couldn't see in 3D. The pain in my eyes came back, but the glasses were still better than nothing.
In March of 2005, I started taking Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil capsules and about a week later, I could see better without my glasses and the pain in my eyes was gone. I still can't see in 3D, but at least my vision is better and most of the pain is gone. The pain still comes back when I get really tired, though, but that's a sign that I should go to bed.
Near the end of April of 2014, I got some glasses that contain prisms from a new eye doctor. The lenses are kind of shaped like wedges (really thick on the sides). They seem to be working great so far. I can finally see in 3D after all these years and these glasses also help me to read without the words bouncing around. Seems like it's easier to concentrate on what I'm doing, so maybe I'll get more things done.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
While reading your page about yourself and some of the things you've gone through with Asperger's, it was like reading about my own son. Not everything is exactly like his experience, but there are so many parallels in your stories, it blew me away. He has Asperger's; he also had a fall when very young, about 4 yrs old off his bed, and had a gash on the back of his head. He was diagnosed with ADHD, PDD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and the memory problems are almost identical, although he has short and long term memory deficits. He also was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder, and had EEGs to check for Absent Seizures or other kinds, because he would be there one second, and then stare off for just maybe 30 seconds, sometimes longer and then be back, and not remember anything just happened, but not knowing where that missing time went. The EEGs showed he had small seizures several times a day, and also, some anomaly in his parietal lobe, which they said is common in Asperger patients. My son has graduated, but he really struggled, with me there coaching and helping all the way for him to get that far. I feel he is a genius, he is so wise, but struggles with remembering things, even phone numbers and names and words he knows, but just don't exist sometimes when he tries to recall them. He amazes me with some of the other things that he has such profound wisdom at and does remember. Anyone that goes through this in our ignorant school and social systems, and still pulls it off to me, is a genius. I see his wisdom, his potential, and how he manages to find different ways to overcome certain hurdles, but always logics and gets it. Amazing! You guys are an inspiration.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I just wanted to say I appreciate you going to trouble of creating and maintaining this website. It's nice to read the personal experiences of those with Asperegers. I've been researching the condition for almost two years and have had more than enough of the cold clinical desciptions written by those who don't actually understand what it's like to feel every nerve tingle when you get under flourescent lighting! I don't actually have a diagnosis, as I have a sensibly grounded phobia of doctors. I've been trying for years to figure out for myself what's "wrong" with me and have found nothing that fits better than Aspergers syndrome. I hate cardboard and shiver at the mere mention of touching paper when my fingers are or have recently been wet. I wonder does it bother you when people click cards paper and otherwise against wood counters? I enjoyed your description of memory. It mirrored my experience almost precisely. I feel obligated to be sure that I understand where my knowledge stems from to be sure that I am correct but more often than not can find no source. I share your pain of pretending to understand people when you just can't catch what they mean. Lately the worst is when my boss asks me if I want to work extra and I don't realize until I have agreed, although I don't want to or cannont do what she's asked. Anyway! I was beginning to ramble, as I'm sure you can imagine it's sort of my thing.
Thank you again, and as far as those who have so little to do with their time that they find it necessary to mock or judge you F**K 'EM. That's my philosophy!
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