A personal introduction before we get into specifics
Welcome to the website of an antiquated Asperger Syndrome polymath.
As my consulting business name suggests, I’m of a different mind. The name of my business isn’t just a clever pun. It is descriptive of my take on things. A late-diagnosed AS adult who thinks differently, like Cervantes’ s Don Quixote, I’ve perpetually tilted at windmills. There is a difference between what I’ve accomplished and what DQ wasn’t able to accomplish, even with the protective post-damaging-event sweepings of his stallwart sidekick Sancho Panza. I’ve been fortunate to learn from many of my mistakes, but I’m not perfect.
I’m still making mistakes, many of them the same, but also many new ones. Both kinds are educational. I also believe in the positive value of conflict, and while I dislike a dogfight as most of us would, I’m not afraid to mix it up with those I think would benefit from a little straightening around.
As you journey through this web site, please keep in mind that we’re all still in training for whatever life hands us, and for whatever we deliberately seek, no matter how well we think we’ve got the hang of it. I encourage my readers to challenge my assumptions, and engage me, and the argumentative side of themselves, in healthy dialogue. Not diatribes, not monologues.
Dialogue. In my book, communication isn’t just one way, although as an autistic adult, that’s the direction my mind always wants to take me.
From the Articles and Writings link to the left, you’ll see that I’m full of opinions. I also hope you’ll recognize that I love people and I embrace our diversity as human beings. A lot.
At my age (63) I’m not averse to sharing a little wisdom. I don’t expect you to agree with with me. Like anyone else using this electronic medium, I ask only that you reflect before you react and start pounding the table, the keyboard, or anything else on which you visit your displeasure. No pounding on people, please!
My Business is Your Business
I’m in business as a disability consultant and professional advocate. Click on the link to the left, Description of Business, to get a better idea of what I do. I also write a bit for money. Not much. Writing is like morning exercises for some. I have to do it. I get the itch. I scratch the itch. If I get a little pocket change for it, so much the better. I also make a buck or two doing the rubber-chicken conference thing, although recently I’ve found endless travel, expensive hotel and restaurant food not to my liking or easy on my pocket book.
I love crowds and the thrill of speaking and conducting workshops. More than anything, I enjoy the one-on-one contacts such opportunities present. A review of my Curriculum Vita will give you some idea of where I’ve been and what I’ve done not only recently, but “way back when.”
That period of my life — all fifty five years of it — the time before I finally had a label that explained a lot more, is what has made me the being I am today. My former views of myself — and there were many former views–largely held me back from taking risks. I now know why, but I don’t ruminate on “what could have been.”
I don’t have time for that. I’m too excited about what is, and what lies before me.
I’m also a small time community activist and a minor appointed politico, working in venues having little, directly, to do with disability and non-majority cultural issues. But I usually have a way of worming those questions in, reminding folks to include all of us in their policy discussions.
What you Won’t Find on this Web Page
If you’ve come to this page expecting direction to links about Asperger Syndrome or people just like me, you’re likely to be disappointed. I do have a few Links to resources and people who have made a difference to me. However, other people do the on-line information and referral thing better than I do. Out of respect for their expertise, may I suggest you continue on in your search for heavy duty information on this peculiar developmental condition known as Asperger Syndrome and more generally, autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
Concentration on Adult Issues
One thing we’ve all learned over the past decade: Autism is far more prevalent in the adult population than we once thought. Since I was diagnosed in advanced adulthood I’ve decided to specialize in understanding and serving what and who I know best — other adults and their families.
It isn’t a “kid condition,” and it doesn’t disappear — POOF! — when an autistic individual turns 18. It hangs around, and it gets different as we clamber on through life. Not necessarily better, just different. Autism, just like us, goes through developmental phases. People aren’t born immutable, and none of us dies without having gone through some heavy duty changes — development, if you wish — throughout our lives. That’s everyone, folks.
I love change and I fear change. Just like lots of us. But I don’t let my fear hold me back any longer. My first reaction to something not familiar is to be curious. If it crowds upon things I’ve done differently in the past, sometimes I get snitty, but not so much any more. I ask myself why others think it’s a good idea, and most of the time, I end up not only accepting change, but embracing it and furthering it.
It’s good for one’s mental health to stretch.
Even though most of us grow up and leave our families, you can’t take the family out of the adult kid. And the family can’t take its notion of the kid out of what it thinks of itself, either!
That’s the reason I enjoy doing comprehensive, wrap around case management. I connect the dots, and then help everyone involved with an individual refine their own connections. Some will be the same as those I’ve discovered. Others won’t be, and they are entitled to their perceptions. It’s their reality; it’s their history. I can’t hope to change the past, and it isn’t my business to try. If others wish, I can help them explain themselves to others, especially those with power, influence, benefits, and yes, money. Money isn’t the engine. It’s just one of the engines but if you don’t have enough for the basics, you may not get too far in life.
So, I help people and their families find services and benefits that are in some cases, literally, money in the bank. I connect individuals and their families with resources. I am a very unconventional operator when I do this. I’m a freight dock, storage closet and production floor guy. I use the back doors, the rear stairs, and find out who is really in charge, and who’s got the keys to the goods. And these are the folks I connect my clients with. I’m not impressed by titles or positions. I am impressed by what people and resources are able to do. I’m a boundary buster. In polite circles, that’s called “a person with boundary issues.” No matter. I do this for my clients. (I only get in trouble when I break boundaries just for myself). This quality makes me very Aspie. I like concrete. I like tangible. I like feel it in the hand, or on your face, and in your heart. I like getting things done.
I also like being with people who generally think they’re OK. That’s why in 1998 I founded and still co-facilitate the Portland AS Adult Support Group today, and with a colleague, co-facilitate an AS Committed Partners Group that’s been up and running since the summer of 2000.
We like working with one another. She’s the jingle to my jangle.
With my licensed clincial social worker friend, we’ve made a point of facilitating a regular monthly two hour multidisciplinary professional counselors group concentrating exclusively on Asperger Syndrome and sharing our best and promising practices with one another. To our knowledge, we’re the only people doing this, although you’d think the idea of counselling professionals meeting regularly with one another to share their wisdom and their professional challenges with AS individuals would be something others would do. So far, as far as we know, they haven’t.
Maybe Portland’s a special place. Maybe Oregon’s a special place.
Maybe it’s in the moss on our Oregon trees? (Or between our toes!) In 1998 I met my other best buddy, Linda Newland, on an AS Parents list serv, and together we started Oregon Parents United, a web site with a list serve open to Oregon parents of AS kids concentrating on special education issues. A short while later, Linda invited me to be a co-participant in another web site and its list serv — ASPIRES — this one promoting understanding of AS between committed partners and family members and their AS adults.
I like doing good work. I enjoy doing a complete job, not “just an alright job.” That’s the perfectionist in me. When I worked for others, my bosses said they were satisfied with my just building a box or a crate. Not me. I was always building a concert grand piano, even if the customer only wanted a produce box. I disappointed my bosses. I didn’t make them much money, or enough money. I got fired and laid off a lot. A few jobs I made things so unpleasant for everyone that I quit rather than being fired or laid off. I burned lots of bridges before I understood that that’s what I was doing.
So, I do thorough work, and I do it as efficiently as I can, but I do a complete job…to my high standards. That’s why I’m a solo operator. That’s another Aspie thing about me, but…
Then I like moving on.
I love telling stories about people. Yes, I’m a “thing person,” but I’m not that attached to objects. Objects aren’t warm. I’ve been known to collect things, and then impulsively give them nearly all away. Things don’t make me tear up like a passage in music composed by geniuses, many like ourselves, and conducted and performed by other geniuses, some of them also like ourselves. People make me cry, and that’s good. That’s very good for an Aspie.
Why Publish my Mother’s Stories Here?
A simple answer having nothing to do with ancestor worship. Her stories deserve to see the light of day. They’re well written. I’m not the only one who thinks so.
We all come from families. Mine was a challenging one, but I was lucky in that despite how dysfunctional we were, now, all three siblings really do love one another a lot. We didn’t, for a long time, but we’re older. We were all influenced by our mother, who was a troubled soul, but a brilliant short story writer. She died a suicide in 1982. We grew up with her stories about her extended family. If you click on the link to Bee Baxter Meyer Writings in the column to the left of this site overview, you’ll see what I mean about her talents.
I got some of my writing talent from hers. You’ll see that when you read some of what I’ve written, found in my biographical pieces scattered throughout this web site. Like her, I’ve tackled lots of the “no-no’s” in our culture. She wrote about Alzheimer’s when the condition didn’t yet have a name. She wrote about getting old in a worrisome but refreshing way, and she wrote about the hard things most folks would rather not face. She lived her life like that, too.
One thing all three of us — my twin sister and my younger sister — got from both of our parents is a passion for social justice. My twin has converted that into a lifetime of caring for others, as a teacher, as a behind-the-scenes support person. My younger sister has also developed this social justice streak as of late. It runs in our blood, perhaps only a bit stronger in mine than in theirs. That’s why I thought it important for you to see where my interest in the basics of human support came from: affordable housing, brains that work well, decent food, decent jobs, respect and dignity and preservation of our human and civil rights, and finally, satisfaction of our universal human need to be accepted and loved.
My values have led me to being a systems guy, a policy wonk, because I believe that all change — individual and institutional — happens in a much wider context.
The difference between my interests and that of many others with Asperger Syndrome is that I’m doing something about them for others’ benefit as much as my own. Like other Aspies, I’m in my head a lot, but I really do dislike sitting around gazing at my navel or at a computer or TV screen for self-entertainment. So I work to improve things for other folks. I’ve done that all of my life, but the last eight years, I’ve done it for real, and full time. If I didn’t get an enormous amount of personal satisfaction in what I do, I wouldn’t do it.
I love routine, but I dislike drudgery. Nothing like a new challenge to keep the juices flowing.
Cold fish? Hardly. Insensitive? Yes, sometimes. Caring about others?