Book Report : Tao Te Ching by Laozi (Lao Tsu)

The particular copy in the post title photo was given to me in my early 20s by Michelle, a switch who also was on the spectrum and a play partner/colleague in crime for a few months. She was more of a polyglot than even myself and lived in books mostly. She has been an inspiration to me in finding life answers through the written wisdom of the ages. Having been snowed in recently such as I was and in setting up my books I came across this. Within the pages still are lines she underlined specifically for me and I have been finding re-reading it to be so rewarding I have sent numerous copies out to friends who are also currently in the state of reflection (as well as ordered a few more for here to give to friends I expect to see in the coming weeks/months..) (Amazon has a recommended translation for about $6 btw).

A little bit about this book. Yes, it is about Taoism – it is one of the fundamental texts that serve as a foundation for the philosophy/religion. This writing has been translated more than any other book with the exception of only the bible. It dates back to around 6th century BC. Check wikipedia for a treasure trove of information

The reason for recommending this book at this particular time, is that the message I get from the book is to accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than what it is. For an Autistic – that is one of the (at least my) greatest challenges. I see (and have researched) a very common trait, especially around high functioning Autistics is the inability to sit still or to leave anything alone without continually trying to make progress on it. Add in my OCD and often times being told to “just wait” on something is akin to being told to peel all of my own skin off my body flake by flake with rusty tweezers. The essence of this book is, in it’s simplest form is to “Simply Be”. For myself – this resonates well for me right now.

For those I have shared this book with in the past (well those who actually used it and reflected on it), I have found a few common take-aways (although one could almost translate it into meaning for pretty much any aspect of their lives). For many of my NT friends, the message has often meant acceptance of what is in front of them. This I have seen has led to suspension of disbelief and baggage with messages like “Yes, I can be loved”, “Yes this can be real”, and “Yes, this is okay <for whatever situation they are going through>”. For my fellow Autistics, it is often translated in a form that is riddle like and very tickling to the brain. It is far from literal, but by giving enough triangulation of being non-literal, the message can come through. In this way it is almost like practice for communication with NTs as it forces one to take in many nuances to piece together the message. It is also a message about being okay to just sit, and to not try so hard, and that things can be good (or even ideal) in their natural state without it having to be tweaked, adjusted, or played with. (Something I feel like I can struggle with even in a second-by-second natural state of being awake).

A few choice messages I have written in my journal this week from my reading of the Tao De Ching:

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.

We turn clay to make a vessel, but it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

Goodness in words creates trust, goodness in thinking creates depth, goodness in giving creates love.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them-that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

Seek not happiness too greedily, and be not fearful of happiness.

Next Book Review will be on Brain Lock – by Jeffrey M. Schwartz. One of the best books I have ever had on understanding OCD and is a great tool/resource for those wanting to understand OCD in others or in themselves.

Comments or mail always welcome. I found out how to turn on allowing anonymous commenting. Given the topics of the blog I felt inclusion that allows for anonymity should be allowed.


Uniqueness versus Generalities

I have been doing a lot of research lately to add references and resources to this blog as well as for additional self education as I have been not “working on myself as an autistic” for a few years (given the meds that I was taking seemed to my perception to be taking care of things). You know, the medication I am not to go without.

Today I had several emotional outbursts as I was reading forum discussions, particularly from as well as a few from reddit. Occurrences were discussed that I had similarities to in my life (but had shut out or forgotten for more positive thoughts) and in reading others experiences of the same I just – well – I felt very very sad, alone, lonely, and very much reduced in hope for any real personal and understanding from a connection in my life. Silly I know given the math, however it was the feeling I had. I don’t think it is masochistic to continue reading these from others – but the abuse of forcing myself to re-live to this degree feels strangely deserving and healthy. I will have to unpack that later – and since I have a lot of changes going on in me I won’t take it too seriously until I myself stabilize.

One thing that resonated very clearly from the forums (as well as from my fellow friends on the spectrum) is 2 things of importance:

  1. Current available resources are often way over-generalized, outdated (always check the date of the resource, some top key term searches on Google give top content from the friggin 80s!).
  2. Generalities are painful – every human is unique. Every human is different. So is every human with Autism.

To help illustrate I will be applying my own self against an article that I reverse-engineered hits on a one of the top hits from Google on characteristics of a high functioning autistic. I will give the statement presented (as a fact from the “expert” of the article – and then I will give my personal perspective on whether or not it applies to me).

First bunch of generalities that were presented as “Facts”

  1. (Autistic person uses) Formal style of speech that does not suit the occasion.
  2. The prosody or melody of speech is unusual and this is reflected through its pitch, stress and rhythm. The meaning of speech is communicated through accents, flow and volume and an autistic person does not use these in the ways that other people do.
  3. Figures of speech and sarcasm are not understood by autistic adults and expressions such as “has the cat got your tongue?” may be taken literally.
  4. Conversational skills are weak and the adult may avoid conversing or often launches into a monologue about a personal interest.
  1. I have found that I have a “preferred” speech pattern and formality and that my difficulty often is in changing my formality to match the intended audience. Simplest of examples if working with someone who “Shit Talks” or to where profanity is very common throughout every sentence or idea. Where it is not my comfort zone or style, in working plenty of jobs in my life where this was prevalent I find myself more than capable of adaptation for the intended audience to be comfortable. “Shit man, a motherfucker just has to know how to be real with another motherfucker. If you can’t get down and dirty on the same level then how the fuck can you really talk about shit?”. IN general I find high-functioning autistics to have more verbose speech with a higher range of use of what most may consider obscure words. Careful though – being labelled as “long winded” being the person who uses the “5 dollar words” and being a “Know it all” are easy target labels.
  2. This one is hard for me as I studied speech patterns, I am a trained presenter, I was a radio host, and I studied neurological linguistics and understand the value of auditory communications. I am likely skewing the curve on this if a curve exists at all. My personal perspective is that everyone has speech patterns that are unique and only in a common percentage (which would lead to me to being a stereotype) does this occur. I call false personally as I see it as a spurious correlation given neuro-typical people have the same uniqueness (in my opinion and observation). I will challenge anyone who says there is not a pattern to any humans speech. My personal OCD and Autism absorbs attributes, measures, and finds patterns. If you pay close enough attention (whether Autistic or NT <Neuro-typical>) – a pattern exists for everyone’s speech. I can often rapidly tell from a few sentences of my Autistic friends what their underlying mood is. A few choice questions and answers and the patterns within their replies often pinpoints quite readily the root causation of their mood. Last year I knew from just two very innocuous texts (totaling just 14 words) from a sibling that the sibling was in trouble and in danger. This led to preventing that persons attempted suicide. I knew that siblings patterns. The pattern of your romantic interest IS THERE. Email me if you can’t find it after trying at least once and I will gladly help you.
  3. The wording of it “May” be taken literally helps. I myself like to use expressions, especially those based upon the duplicitous nature of the English language (hey it tickles my brain) but at times – I can take things very literally (in having issues to see sarcasm specifically). My friend and biz partner Lily trips me up on this every approx 45 days. At one point she (trying to be sarcastic) texted me that she is moving out of country soon. To me I had to process what the impact would be to me, our business, and what support she would need from me to help her with her transition. When she finally realized that I was processing it literally she corrected me. I did advise her to please denote such things with some annotation of “<——Sarcasm”. For the Autistic – an easy thing to do is say “Hey sorry, I am sarcasm blind at times”. For the person wanting to have a relationship with an Autistic who is actually sarcasm blind – I offer you this. In my professional career I ran a class for non-US nationals coming into our company to help them with communications within the company (while also teaching those US natives who were now working with or managing the new folks communications as well). Two great examples – a common phrase in Project management is “How do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time”. This was to give an analogy to breaking down a project into discreet units of work. Unfortunately, if your team is now made up of new Indian-nationals – you just insulted them and their religion. Another example is the term “Cat Herding”. It is used quite often to describe the difficulty in bringing together diversity in people, efforts, priorities, etc. It helps to explain if you look at the origin of the term, being a superbowl commercial for a now defunct company called EDS. Talk about a literal translation….
  4. This one honestly pissed me off. There is SO much below this overly used generalization. I myself struggled in my 20s and even into my early thirties with this (in time coaching made the difference and I still can catch myself doing the social faux paus in this). Here is the scene – you are interacting with an Autistic, either 1:1 or they are in a group and someone is telling a story. At some point, before the story ends, the Autistic interjects with a seemingly random change of subject. The reaction is rudeness, lack of social awareness, and selfishness or complete uninterest from the Autistic. Let me share with you what is was like from my perspective at those times. I cared about fitting in, I cared about showing that I was deeply engaged, I cared about furthering the conversation, and (on some occasions) I was enjoying the topics so much that I wanted the person speaking to triangulate their perspective if it had additional information. Yes I could not control myself to interject. I did it regardless. For me – it was a volcano that couldn’t be stopped and had to erupt – but the catalyst wasn’t me – it was me trying to engage and be understood and to scream “Hey – I am relating to what you are saying. I am making what you are saying important. Here is how it relates to something that happened to me. Yay I can relate. And can you continue but from an angle of new information I am now providing you, now start and tell me more now”. Obviously it is rarely ever taken as such. It takes a lot of training/practicing and a lot of work on impulse control to get past that. If you are the Autistic – practice asking questions and phrasing a lead in to your experience through the question. This has helped me A TON. Someone is talking about their new personal trainer (My initial flare up is to say – “Hey I used to be a personal trainer” (meaning – hey I have life experiences that align with the story you are telling, I care about you, and that you care enough about me to share then hey I want to share too, but I really really really want it to be THIS SECOND that I share it). Just – pause. Let them finish. Don’t get overly excited. When finished – ask “That really resonated with me. In fact I used to be a personal trainer myself. Would you like to hear about that?”. And btw – I am also a hypocrite because I knew this methodology bt have been failing to use it the last few months myself. Just thought I’d share that, but I feel I have been doing very well on the not interrupting or getting overly excitable. If you are the person looking to date an Autistic that demonstrates this behavior – first off – that person must really want to be open and show you that they care. Start with that. If it becomes over-bearing there are some techniques that you can use (email me and I’ll share) but first and foremost is sharing how that behavior impacts you – acknowledge that you know (or think/feel) that it is not malicious – and talk about it (and limits, always good).

Next batch of “Facts” from the article:

A group of symptoms of high functioning autism in adults concern behavior patterns. These commonly include the following:
1 Preoccupation with a special interest. This is more than just a hobby as the intensity or focus given to it is abnormal, to the point of being an obsession. The adult may spend hours studying a topic such as trains, aircraft or computers and talk about it incessantly.
2 The interest may concern parts of objects and the adult may be seen intently studying the inner workings of a clock or staring into the cab of a locomotive.
3 Inflexible routines are common in adults with high functioning autism. They like to have their day planned and if something happens to upset it, they become distressed and disagreeable.

My takes

  1. I feel that the writer is creating a false stereo type and has a lot more words and understanding to give for this to be meaningful in any sense of trying to understand. For me personally – Yes in my past I have had what other people had considered obsessions. The most prevalent was math and analytical theory. But then again, that was my career. Before that it was fitness, but then again that was my career. For awhile, it was martial arts, but then again, that was what my job was. I had an almost 20 year career running analytics teams for a large corporation. I was interviewed at year 18 for a write up and the interviewer at one point made the statement “Wow, you must REALLY enjoy math.” That statement changed my life because I reflected on it and knew that no, I really didn’t. I got so math centric in my career because I was naturally good at it and I wanted to be accepted. That was an easier path than connecting with people in other ways. I could be very comfortable and feel secure in my math abilities around others. I continued to advance my knowledge as it seemed like the logic thing to do, to “continually progress” so to speak – something I find that myself (and most every high function Autistic I know tries to do). If you are trying to have a relationship with the Autistic that demonstrates this behavior -= ask questions to help you both understand “How did your fascination with computers start?”, “Do you have special first memories of trains that you could share with me?” , “What does knowing so much about <XXX> mean for you personally?”. I would be that you would find some kind of special nuer-association, root cause, or security that is being fed by that “obsession” – and you would learn to appreciate that person a ton more.
  2. This is one that I agree with the words, but would word it with greater specificity. I myself see patterns and really really want to understand how and why things are the way they are. How do traffic lights regulate traffic and what are the forces that influence that (from the magnets under the pavement at major intersections to the timing being offset when an emergency vehicle uses their beacon to trip the lights to their favor – it is simply – Fascinating – and tickles my brain in so many ways). For the person wanting a relationship with a high function Autistic – I can promise you this. That person will see the world and the little things in ways that you never thought of, and if you invest in getting a glimpse into that then the trivial world will become much more appreciated by you as well. Want to stimulate that? Ask a “I wonder why…” question to that person, and then stand back and let them go at it. “Why is the distance between railroad tracks exactly 4 ft 8.5 inches?” (Btw, it may have to do with Rome and Horse’s asses). “How would one build a pier and why do all piers look alike?” “Why is the bedroom designed to be the safest place in a fire, and how are those standards maintained?” – OMFG I could give you a billion of these. Email me if you need a hundred more.
  3. This one is more true than false – but again should not be over-generalized as an absolute. I myself have my day planned for the next day by the time I sleep. Changes or impacts to that day that deviate from the plan is a source of angst for me, truly. I get sad when people change or cancel plans on me. I get sadder when something that I thought was true turns out to not be. This is true whether the packages were supposed to arrive by 6 pm according to the tracking on the website and it turns 6:01 or whether I trust and believe in someone who says “Ok, we’ll grab drinks on Friday – it’s solid in my calendar” and then cancels (even 10 minutes later). Dependability and trust is a hard one for myself and I have learned to handle it through baselining patterns. I had one employee (we had flexible hours) that would always say what time she would get there. She was always late. after the 7th time I knew her patterns and just calculated that if she said she would be there by 5 that I should count on her being there at 6:13. After a few months she was telling another crew member that I was such an understanding boss and so great and easy to work with. She explained that she was late that day as an example and that she knew I would be okay with it. This other person said “No you’re not late, he said you would be here by 6:15”. She confronted me and I gave her my math and baseline. I adjusted to her baseline. Now if you are the person trying to have the relationship with the Autistic, here are some big tips. IF you have to cancel a scheduled anything, do so with a set expectation on when that scheduled anything will actually occur (and damn well stick to it). If you say that something is true to you, please be certain before you share. Check for understanding if uncertain (or just check for understanding as a general rule). Don’t assume fungibility and flexibility is a norm, ASK. And never be afraid to ask “When I am late/have to cancel/change my mind/backstep on something I said – how do you process that and how does that impact you?”

I am always open for emails, comments with questions, requests for clarifications.

A continually updated list of Resources

I will be maintaining a list of resources as I find them to help you possibly speed up your own research. Check back often for updates.

Reminder: Every Autistic is a different. Don’t assume – Ask. – a good “general” resource. Consider it a primer for terms and general concepts. – Great for asking questions of the community or for seeing other previous discussions on a wide variety of specific topics. I am “Autistic Daddy” in the forums btw. This is one of my faves btw. – Activism and knowing policies supporting those on the spectrum. Some webinars (where links often do not work) to dating on the spectrum (from the Autistic’s side) are available and useful.

More to come – I want to vet others more thoroughly before adding

Current reflections

I’ve been reflecting on how my current situation is ideal for the activities of this blog space in particular. You see I was on very specific medications for my Autism/OCD for well over a decade and recent medical issue has caused me to be fully removed from them altogether. Where these meds helped regulate quite a lot of symptoms and helped me be more outside of the social looking in, now without I have no regulation (outside my life’s training) and now also have emotions.

Oh the silly thoughts and feelings I have had over the last few weeks. By silly I mean very sarcastically – it has been hell at some times.

I am however blessed with some good friends who have known me long enough to be able to be supportive. From them I have gotten some comments and insights as to the changes it has been from their perspective in interacting with me now. (I desperately need their inputs as I am unable to see all the changes myself). These friends availability (as well as my own having been and still being snowed in – now day 9) has unfortunately been more disconnecting than I would like. Not seeing anyone – I feel I am missing out on just hugging another human and just being able to cry out some of this. Additionally, each friend really only has certain aspects of my life within their understanding, so I have to put on an analytical lens with each persons feedback to correlate with the “in what way does this person align with me”. The two people that I feel love me and have the most of me are needing their own space right now as well, so are completely unavailable. Plus honestly I wouldn’t want the burden of supporting me through this on them anyways – they have their own stuff to deal with and I would wind up likely not accepting help and instead switching back into caregiver mode for them. Strangely enough though, that still feels like what I need now more than anything. Oh introspection, what a saucy little vixen you are to me. It feels to me that I am, even now more than ever, meant to be (and am) a caregiver more than anything else. I just don’t have anyone to care for immediately and just have to be alone with this.

For this blog I already have started drafts on the first 15 topics to cover. I am doing my scholarly work in finding cited resources and doing additional research and it is that reason alone why the pages haven’t flown off the keyboard yet. I also see how deep each single topic means for me so trying to get it feeling complete enough to be worthy of publish is another milestone I wrestle with (still chanting myself that it does NOT have to be perfect). Perfectionism is a trait of my Autism and OCD that can be a hindrance quite a bit.

If you found this blog than either you are Autistic and wanting insights from another of your ilk or you are nuero-typical (yeah, that’s what WE call YOU PEOPLE – and yes that is a joke or at least a sad attempt at one) looking yourself for help in relating to an Autistic. For each of you – I ask you kindly – give replies, ask questions, give me what you are struggling with and let me share my experiences. I need this please, as being able to share is healing and soothing for me. You can even email me directly – . I would love to hear from you, truly.

What to expect

Hi – Are you in a relationship with or trying to potentially to be in one with a relationship with a High Functioning Autistic? As being a High Functioning Autistic myself – I am writing this to both express myself as well as to hopefully help others with my shared experiences.

My motivation to write this is two fold. One is to hopefully take my pain and make some good for others, and two, to hopefully heal from an intense experience where I thought I was understood and, in not being so, wound up very wounded.

My desired outcome of this, besides self-healing and self-care, is to make new friends through your communications back to me, and to help make any relationships for other High Functioning Autistics better for them and their partners. If I can help even 2 other (existing or possible) partnerships, then I can accept my own experiences better.