A Sidekick's Blog

Slow to Understand

November 30, 2014
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While for years I have given intellectual assent to the idea that because Christ served, put up with, healed, fed, cared for and died for ungrateful, undeserving, unloving, stiff-necked, stubborn people to redeem a people for Himself, so that they would likewise serve other undeserving, ungrateful, selfish people, in all these years it seems to have rarely ever worked it’s way from my head to my heart.

Especially in these last few years, I have allowed my heart to be filled with resentment and bitterness towards the very people that God has given me to show His love. I have no idea why it has taken so long to travel the 18-inch distance from head to heart, but it seemed at least to be getting close today as our church celebrated the Lord’s Supper, in which we remember and apply the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood on behalf of us, unworthy, undeserving, selfish, stubborn, rebellious sinners. It was not only on the cross that Christ suffered! His anguish began at His incarnation, when He emptied Himself from the glories of heaven into the form of a helpless human infant, totally dependent upon sinners to provide for His sustenance. Imagine the humiliation for the Creator and Ruler of all that exists, to reduce Himself to that!

And in all the years as a human child in which He obeyed His parents, His teachers, even the Roman authorities – all of whom He had created and sustained. According to the writer of Hebrews, “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (5:8). And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation (verse 9).” His was a life of suffering, culminating in the suffering of a criminal’s death at the hands of the very ones He spent His life in service to. My rebellion, my guilt, the chains of my slavery to my own corrupted heart, He abolished on the cross, paying the debt of this undeserving cosmic traitor. The proof that His payment fully satisfied my debt was that the Father raised Him from the dead, having accepted the blood of His own Son as payment for my rebellion.

So why now, after having been rescued from God’s fearsome justice, should my heart be filled with resentment for the little things I suffer in caring for a dementia patient who is far less ungrateful and rebellious than I ever was? Christ redeemed me from sin and hell so that I could be like Him, sharing His righteousness, His inheritance of heaven and earth! The path to that inheritance is sharing His suffering, through the narrow gate, along the narrow way. To be like Him I must live like He did. Helpless to do so because I am human and dwell in a body twisted and corrupted and stained with sin, Christ has even provided the means for me to live as He did, providing His written word to instruct my mind and His own Spirit to apply that instruction to my heart so that it shows up in my hands, in my words, my behavior, and my attitudes. Furthermore He has promised to finish what He has begun, perfecting and changing me to reflect His own love and mercy.

Clearly, there remains much work to be done. But like the little child that completely depends on another to do for him what he cannot do for himself, I remain in perpetual state of humble dependence on His Spirit to bring His instruction those last 18 inches from my poor, aging, corrupted brain to my heart, and then my hands, my thoughts, and my words.

I pray every day for God to take “Grammy” to heaven. But until today, my motive was only to relieve my own burden of caring for her. Today, that prayer is is truly for Grammy, whose suffering – both mental and physical – is beyond my ability to even imagine. Until He takes her home, may He grant me compassion, and may He grant that I would take delight in every opportunity to be like Him.


Different, Not Broken

November 24, 2014
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How My Gift Helps Me:

I didn’t want to work in the Inspector’s office, but I aced the exam for it anyway because my gift lets me see things as they are.

Shown a picture of a house and asked, “what color is the roof,” I replied, “This side is green.”

“Why didn’t you just say ‘green?'”

“I don’t see the other side. I reported what I saw.”

Neurotypical (my term for so-called “normal” – not gifted with autism) people apparently have to be taught not to assume a bunch of stuff. I come by it naturally.

I didn’t take the fire inspector job, but my gifts served me very well for thirty years in the fire department, and they serve me well now in some of my college classes while absolutely infuriating me in other ones. The ones where you’re supposed to assume, guess, be intuitive, and fill in the blanks with bits of yourself. I have the benefit of over a half-century of life experience now so I’m actually managing that, but it still absolutely ticks me off as having no value as a learning tool. I seriously could not have earned a college degree right out of high school with no presumptions and prejudices to fill in the blanks with! Waiting 30 years has turned out to be a good thing. But it sure is changing my estimate of the value of a college education. I’m now more convinced than ever that it’s neurotypical people who have something “wrong,” not me! I know that sounds arrogant. I used to care about being accused of arrogance, aloofness, moodiness, blah blah blah. No I guess I’m old enough to just not give a darn. Besides, when I was giving a darn it wasn’t worth all the futile effort it took to be “sociable.”

My gift is not always an advantage, though… the first time a nurse said, “I need to take your vital signs,” I was backing away like, “You leave them right where they are!”

When she finished giggling she explained that she only needs to measure them, not take them.

“That isn’t what you said.”

“You knew what I meant,” she protested.

“No I DIDN’T!” Why don’t people say what they mean!?!”

That’s the first of a zillion and twelve incidents in which my gift has been a confusing disadvantage. I’m really not stupid, it’s just that I rely almost entirely on words to interpret what people say. So when people use words that have multiple meanings, or employ aphorisms that aren’t obvious, I truly have no idea what was said. When others laughed at something said that way, I used to laugh along, trying to fit in. Now I just excuse myself and go find a potted plant to admire or something, rather than put on a fake face and try to “fit in.”

Why Robin Can’t Read:

“Any abnormal symptoms, Robbie?”

First of all how does a kid know what’s “normal” anyway? Normal for me is what I have always experienced. So I answer, “No, Doctor. Nothing abnormal.” A smart nurse asked the question better:

“Robbie, what do you see?”

“The letters are dancing.”

“Dancing? Describe it.”

“They float up off the paper and throw shadows on the page, and they vibrate in keeping with that damn deafening noise!”

“What noise?”

“You don’t hear it?? From the lights! It’s 60 pops a second. I can count them.”

I don’t know what normal is, but I do know that fluorescent light is a freaking stupid choice for a classroom! (This was back in the day that fluorescent lights were a heckuvalot noisier than they are today).

I experimented with colored paper and colored glasses until I found the right combination to calm the noise down a bit. But the best answer was, “Put little Robin by a window and let him use natural light as much as possible.” Heck YEAH! Move me to the seat next to that pretty red-haired girl, that’ll help me concentrate, lol.

Anyway this was 1970-ish, before we knew much about the Spectrum – and when schools were being built with windows like places for kids, instead of without windows like prisons for criminals. So you kids on the autism spectrum be thankful for the progress that research has brought, okay? And know this: You’re NOT BROKEN. You’re just different. That’s not a crime nor a sin, though you may have heard otherwise.


Theory finds that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t lack empathy – in fact if anything they empathize too much

November 13, 2014
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This might explain a few things… like why Robin is always so darned intense…

Seventh Voice

Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado Art work by Aegis Mario S. Nevado

“A ground-breaking theory suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s do not lack empathy – rather, they feel others’ emotions too intensely to cope.”

“People with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is a response to being overwhelmed by emotion – an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?

This idea resonates with many people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders and their families. It also jibes with the “intense world” theory, a new way of thinking about the nature of autism.

As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the theory suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency but, rather, a hypersensitivity to experience…

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Florida says NO

November 5, 2014
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Voters in Florida turned down a proposed amendment to the State Constitution that would have legalized “medical” marijuana. But they didn’t vote the way they did because they oppose the medical use of marijuana by prescription for those who could truly benefit from it. Florida said NO to Amendment 2 for two very different reasons:

1. – Amendment 2 was an incredibly badly written amendment. There was nothing “medical” about this proposal. It did not require a prescription, it would not be available at the local pharmacy, and it did not define or specify who a “caregiver” was, nor require any medical training of so-called “caregivers.” It was obviously written by lawyers for lawyers who would have stood to rake in millions of dollars defending so-called “caregivers” and “dispensaries” of “medical” marijuana. The author of this proposed amendment certainly did not write it for the benefit of suffering people who truly need it – and can already get it in Florida without this amendment.

2. – Amendments to the Florida Constitution have historically been proposed by cowardly politicians who did not wish to be on record in support of an issue. A few years back we had one that addressed the size of pens used to house baby pigs. Really?! A simple agricultural regulation had to take the form of a Constitutional amendment in order to get it past a cowardly legislature that didn’t wish to be held accountable for their vote. But the Constitution is not a Christmas treethat people get to hang their favorite little pet causes and ideals on. It’s time that Florida voters blew the dust off their 8th-grade Civics textbooks and learn how a representative government is supposed to work.