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What the hell is in a pop tart?

My wife had a blog for a while trying to explain what is in the prepared foods we seem to be obsessed with.  She is a Chemical Engineer, and a mom of three. Trying to dissect what is on that “ingredient” list is a unique challenge. This one came to thought this morning for a variety of reasons and I still very interesting reading. The kids are now 8, 6 and 4 but everything else is as accurate today as when it was originally written.

 

Written by Jean Imholt

As a mom of three children, ages 5, 4, and 2, I constantly think about what my children are eating.  Let’s face it, the little people eat all the time – breakfast (sometimes second breakfast if the first one was not sufficient), morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner (followed by dessert on occasion).  It is a never ending cycle of thinking about what to feed them, what is for dinner, what staple item is running out in our pantry and fridge, and what to pack for their lunch at school.  Life is hectic as is and we tend to reach for the easy quick solutions to satisfy their never ceasing appetite. Thankfully I am a stay at home mom now and I should have more time than those who work in addition to taking care of their family.  It is an incredibly hard balancing act trying to fit everything in one day’s time and often we don’t or can’t put enough thought and preparation into what we eat… so we opt for ready to eat, processed, fast food, or restaurant food.

I recently saw a documentary entitled Fed Up and it opened my eyes to the dangers of everyday normal foods we purchase at the grocery store and some restaurants.  The rising epidemic of childhood obesity and other related metabolic diseases was astounding and downright scary.  I have heard and read about the unhealthful nature of many processed foods but now I was acutely curious about what is really in them.  I feel that my formal training in chemical engineering with the research background equips me well in this investigation that will hopefully educate myself and my family as well as many others that are concerned about eating healthier. For my very first analysis, I chose Pop-tarts.  I can’t remember the last time I ate one of these – probably when I was in high school.  Several weeks ago, my husband picked up a box of Pop-tarts at the grocery store, thinking perhaps the kids might like them.

He thought he could also eat them for breakfast on the run.  I remember making a face.  Well, here is the nutritional facts printed on the box. pop tart The serving size is one pastry but when you open the box, two pastries are wrapped together, suggesting we should eat two.  I for one, would not be satisfied with eating just one for breakfast.  So if you are going to eat two, you have to double everything you see on this nutrition facts.  Therefore you will be consuming 12 g of total fat and 28 g of sugar, among other things.  What is 28 g of sugar?  One teaspoon of granulated sugar is 4 g of sugar.  In other words, 28 g of sugar is equivalent to 7 teaspoons of sugar.  What is the recommended daily dose of sugar for adults?  There are two different standards – one by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the other, the American Heart Association.  The former recommends 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, while the latter recommends 6 for women and 9 for men per day. Regardless of which guideline you follow, you’ve already blown your sugar intake for the day if you eat two pastries of Pop-tart for breakfast.  Yikes. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but from a sugar perspective you are now done. Now let’s take a closer look at what else is lurking in this portable quick and easy breakfast pastry.  Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and dextrose are all various forms of sugar, depending on where they come from and their molecular structure.  But once ingested, they all are seen as refined sugar in our body and turns to fat until it is burned off.  This is why refined sugar without the fiber (unlike in fruit) is very bad, for it is stored as fat mostly in our midsection. I also noticed several different colorants or food dyes – caramel color, red 40, yellow 6. The most glaring one is Red 40, which is the most widely used food coloring.  It is chemically derived from petroleum and is known to cause symptoms of hypersensitivity in some people, as well as hives and swelling in the mouth, According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  Yellow 6 contains known carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and other contaminants that increase hyperactivity and allergic reaction in some children.  Recent analysis and studies found some compelling evidence linking these food dyes to hyperactivity, restlessness, and attention deficit problems in children with ADHD.  Further, the same studies claims that removing these food dyes from their diet was 25-50% as effective in reducing the symptoms as the drugs usually prescribed for ADHD.  These artificial dyes are literally everywhere in snack foods to cereal to entice our children. Other ingredients that stick out because they are hard to pronounce include Niacinamide, citric acid, soy lecithin, xanthan gum, and vitamin a palmitate. Niacinamide is vitamin B3 (also used a lot in cosmetic products), citric acid is a natural preservative that also adds sour taste to the food, soy lecithin is an oily substance derived from soy that is used as an emulsifier (making things stay mixed and not separate), xanthan gum is produced via fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose (forms of sugar) and used as a thickening agent, and vitamin A palmitate is synthetically produced and used to fortify foods but it has been found that high doses were shown to accelerate cancer in lab animals.  Vitamin A palmitate is also found in eye lubricant and sun screen.

There are other vitamins listed on the ingredients, all synthetically produced.  Why?  Because most of the naturally occurring vitamins are stripped away during the milling of breads and refining of flour for cereals.  In order to make up for the loss of nutrients during processing, the synthetic vitamins and minerals are added, which are not as healthy as their natural counterparts. The analysis of the Pop-tart ingredients shows the shear amount of sugar and numerous chemicals that are not from nature.  This is just one example of processed food.  You have to wonder what the long term cumulative effects of these chemicals in your body might be if you eat this kind of food on a daily basis.

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A children’s story as told by an 8 year old – The Adventures of Hammy and Sam

One of my sons, Elliot (the tallest of the kids in the photo), loves to make things up. I don’t mean the dog ate my homework, I mean he loves to make up his own games, tell stories that he thinks are fun and is, in general, a really creative kid.image1

When he was in first grade during creative time in class he started writing a story. I cleaned it up a little but basically, what you see below came directly from the mind of a 7 year old (he’s 8 now).

It is part of a longer chapter book I’m coaching him on writing for other kids his age. Knowing that dude and his drive, he will get it done.

So I bring you Chapter One of The Adventures of Hammy and Sam — The Fix Mix

 

Hammy was so glad his parents finally got him a dog, it was something he wanted for as long as he could remember. He had to convince them he would be a good dog owner, and take care of his pet. They finally agreed. It was a day he was sure he would remember for the rest of his life.

He and his dog Sam had been best friends ever since, it was more than a year now. Other than his dog Hammy loved being in the second grade but he was always bored on rainy days.

On this rainy day he decided he would play with Sam, until it was time for the dog to take a nap which seemed to happen every afternoon.

Sam is a Golden Retriever. Sam was big, he weighed almost 70 pounds, and that meant when he was on a leash Hammy had to hold on really tight so Sam wouldn’t get distracted and chase a squirrel into traffic. It also meant that Sam had really long fur that Hammy was responsible for cleaning off the furniture, and that the dog really loves to chase a ball and bring it back. They could spend hours doing this, and Hammy liked to try to throw it someplace Sam would have trouble finding it. He laughed every time the dog got confused.

Hammy was throwing a ball for Sam, and had been for a while. What Hammy didn’t know was the reason Sam brought it back so often was that he really liked seeing Hammy smile, and it seemed to bring his friend pleasure.

Because of the rain they were playing in the upstairs hallway of their house. Sam would run as fast as he could toward the ball, and when it bounced off a wall he would slide trying to stop and change directions making Hammy laugh every time.

This time Hammy was going to go for a record. Sam brought the ball back, set it at the boy’s feet and Hammy threw it as hard, as far, and as fast as he could. Sam ran after it as fast as his paws could carry him on the slippery floor.

The ball flew into the closet where his mom kept all the clean sheets and towels. Sam couldn’t find it and started to search, and whine. Sam kept looking back at Hammy with a worried, almost panic stricken expression on his doggie face.

Hammy called to his dog, “SAM! Come here boy, we have more toys!”

His dog did not come.

Something really seemed to be bothering him more than a lost tennis ball should.

Hammy decided to help him search for the ball. “Sam, next time I call you I want you to come, we have more tennis balls you silly dog,” the boy said.

When Hammy got to the other end of the hall he looked in the closet and saw something he had never seen before. In the back of the closet, behind all the stuff his mom put in there was an elevator!

“Sam, when did the house get an elevator, and where does it go, the kitchen right below us,” Hammy asked his beloved pet.

Hammy pushed the button to call the elevator, but it didn’t work. The two best friends went to the garage to borrow some tools from Hammy’s dad.

They worked hard, forgetting about the rainy day. Hammy tightened screws, he banged on things with a hammer, and still the elevator did not work. Finally, Sam noticed a switch on the bottom of the wall. He had never seen that switch before, but it looked just like a light switch. He pushed at it with his paw, he pushed again and again, finally it moved!

Hammy saw the dog move the switch and decided maybe he should try to push the elevator button again.

The button lit up!

The elevator started making a noise, and the doors opened with a BING.

Hammy and Sam looked inside, not sure what was going to happen next.

It looked just like a normal elevator, kind of like the one in the mall. But where did it go? It was in a closet? Maybe it was just a shortcut to the kitchen.

The two friends walked into the strange elevator and pushed a few of the buttons just to see where the doors would open. The doors closed and it started to move, going down. Then, it started to spin. It spun faster and faster.

After what seemed like minutes the doors opened, and it wasn’t in the kitchen.

They slowly stepped out to get a better look, not believing their own eyes.

They saw a strange land. It had trees, hills, and flowers they had never seen before. The flowers came in all sizes, some taller than Hammy and what seemed like a never ending number of color choices.

They could hear birds, Hammy thought they might be hawks but he wasn’t sure.

There was a sign, the two made their way up to it. Sam looked at Hammy, not sure what to think.

“Sam, the sign says be careful the elevator disappears in two hours!” Hammy explained.

“Two hours? Disappear? Should we go look around or just go home?” Hammy asked, not sure what to think of any of this.

Hammy never dreamed his dog would answer but Sam said, in words Hammy could understand, “I don’t know Hammy, but whatever we go, we better hurry back!”

“What?” Hammy asked, totally surprised. Sam talking surprised him more than the elevator in the closet!

“This place must be magic. I can talk here!” The dog said. The golden retriever seemed just as surprised as Hammy at what was going on with his new talent.

They had no idea where they were, but Hammy was sure of one thing.

A great adventure was about to begin.

Intellectuals Versus Experts

This blog was written by my father before he passed away. But, it describes the exact reason this website exists.

 

cropped-firebird.jpeg

Why Experts are Ignorant

Experts and Intellectuals appear and present opinions on a large number of subjects on which they are ignorant. It is particularly tragic when their opinion serves to limit future debate on a subject, as for instance the current global warming (oops, that’s now climate change) debate.

I need to warn you that a this blog entry is partially a rant, but I feel qualified to do this since for a large part of my career I was an expert. Staying at the top of my game as a mainframe computer expert (Consultant Systems Engineer) took a good bit of study in the field. Besides my direct work, for many years I read a technical work and 8 or so magazines each week. Then I’d read technical manuals, proposals, project definitions, etc. I would constantly learn new computers, languages, software, and data-base methods. This is what leads to the ignorance for subjects outside my immediate area. After doing this 6 days a week, I was exhausted. In my newspaper I’d go the comics and sports page first; maybe to skip the others. What little spare time was available would go to my house and kids, then a James Bond novel or to Archie Bunker on television.

This same rut and 70 hour work-weeks apply to most ‘Experts’. What this means is that they can’t keep up on current events or politics. Then we add to the mix those experts who are also classed as ‘Intellectuals’. Most of this idea comes from Thomas Sowell’s excellent thought in his book “Intellectuals and Society”. He defines an intellectual as someone who works with an idea or opinion as his final product. University professors, critics, and expert consultants never need produce anything but the idea; and having produced it they move on never waiting to see an outcome. It may take as much intellect, study, and practice to be a neurosurgeon, but he is not an intellectual and typically lacks the time to present ideas.

Eric Hoffer’s Opinion

Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman and philosopher. His books were insightful and remain in print. During the height of his popularity (the 60s and 70s) he was interviewed in several hour long TV shows, twice by Eric Sevareid and twice by Bill Moyers. I can’t find current details and don’t even remember which of these shows it was, but his response on this subject made such a strong impression on me that I can still paraphrase his comments after 40 years.

The interviewer commented on Hoffer’s ‘seeming dislike’ of intellectuals. Hoffer first paused to clarify the current use of the term in government and academia. He defined that ‘Intellectual’ as someone who by virtue of his background (education, college, etc.), ancestry (parents or teachers), or position (expert or bureaucrat) feels he is more qualified to run my life than I am. Then he exploded; I don’t DISLIKE them, dislike does not begin to describe my feeling, I HATE THEM, I LOATH THEM, I DESPISE THAM.

Role of Experts

I don’t hold ENTIRELY with Hoffer’s attitude. I don’t mind that they think they could run my life better than I. I am slightly irritated when people like a boss’s wife take that position. I am inconvenienced when a someone like an administrative assistant at a church takes that position.

But major problems begin when that expert writes government laws or regulations… now it becomes do it their way of face fines, jail, etc. There are more problems with regulations, but that is for another blog.

Race War or Police War while we wait for Star Wars?

I try to stay informed, watch the news, read articles, and know what is going on in the world. I see a lot of arguments about “false news,” or “pay attention to this group, not that groupo because they have some kind of mental disorder,” and frankly I’m sick of it.

There is a trend in this country of hating police that deserves some measure of understanding. So, what is a guy like me to do? I’m just a scientist (22 patents and counting, which is something that makes me more proud than my PhD), author (I love writing), father (love my kids) and taxpayer (hate the IRS).

Are there bad policemen or policewomen in the world? Absolutely. Have some of the members of the force done things that deserve punishing, absolutely.

Does that mean every single policeman or policewoman (from this point forward I intend to use only policeman and am by no means discounting policewomen when I do so), is a bad person deserving of being degraded, or worse injured/killed? Absolutely not.

Just like not every person that gets pulled over is guilty of more than just driving badly. People, in and out of uniform, deserve our respect. I try to respect people by default when I meet them, until that individual loses that respect. I hope that’s the way most people do things, but let’s face it, that’s not what happens.

There is a racial war going on in this nation. There is also a war against people in certain uniforms going on.

Here is the rub that I see.

Policians claim that there is no price tag that exists that would stop them from protecting the men and women in uniform. To that I say bullshit, but more about that in a minute.

I don’t ever see a politician say there is no price tag that exists that will stop us from protecting our citizenry. Police and citizens should not be divided into camps….ever.

Ok, so what’s my point. City budgets, in fact government budgets in general have grown over the past decades. They have grown a lot. They are constnatly mismanaged and TONS of cash wasted on things that just aren’t needed. Then we buy things that are way more expensive than is necessary for a specific problem.

How do I know this? Ok, let’s look at certain police forces. There are some grand architecture projects going on at various police headquarters to make things look nice. Ok, great, that’s cool, but how about work nice. Let’s worry about functionality instead of grand appearance.

Let’s look at equipment. There is some flow of military equipment going to SWAT teams. This equipment (MRAP, ETC) is hugely expensive to maintain and frankly not as useful as other options that are out there.

Did the politicians think about it wrong? Well, maybe.

WTF am I talking about?

An MRAP is a vehicle that is starting to make its way into law enforcement (or being discussed as such). It is shockingly expensive to keep on the road and stops bullets and bombs in ways most police forces rarely experience.

There are companies right here in the United States that can uparmr a Ford F150 to stop 7.62 Armor Piercing round and that truck can be purchased for less than the annual upkeep on one of those massive MRAP vehicles. Plus throw in that the uparmored F150 looks like a regular F150 from the outside, and we have a vehicle that is more practical because it doesn’t stand out, and can be used for more than the MRAP, like serving high risk warrants.

Just ranting here but I am absolutely certain that if we stop dividing people and start thinking rather than reacting out of emotion our government services will cost less, and provide a better result.

Hitler’s Personal Hell? What would it be like?

I have been thinking a lot lately about certain parts of the human experiment. If you watch the Fox show Lucifer you may think about these same things. If you don’t watch it the basic premise of the show is that the devil has come back to walk the surface of the Earth and he solves crimes in Los Angeles…Ok, it isn’t that bad.

As a crime show it sucks, but it isn’t really about that. It is about a struggle between good and evil and Lucifer (a fallen angel) trying to give up running Hell.

Anyway…the show is worth watching but not the point of this blog.

There was an episode recently that showed Lucifer going back to Hell for part of the episode. It showed what the underworld is like for people. Apparently, it is different for everyone.

Customized to be a unique experience for each person.

It made me wonder what is Hell like for Hitler?

In theory Hell is to make people live through what experience in that person’s life is the thing they feel the most guilty about. Does a person like Hitler feel guilt?

If he did, what is his personal Hell like? Does he have to live through the holocaust? Would he feel guilty about that?

I suspect if anything he would have to live through his last day in a bunker (assuming he didn’t escape Germany as some conspiracy theorists believe). Does he just live through watching Berlin destroyed time after time? Does he have something that was worse for him? Is there ANYTHING a guy like that would feel guilty about?

As you make your way through your day, each and every day, ask yourself what would you feel guilty about living through time after time? What would your personal hell be like? If you have any idea (honestly asking) what you think Hitler’s personal hell would be please leave it in the comments down below. I have bene thinking about it for days and can’t come up with anything that would be fitting, there is so much to choose from, but what singular event would HE be most terrorized by?

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 7 of 7

This is part 7 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is really well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

Autistic people can struggle to ask for help with a problem because of communication skills.

As I understand it most people have trouble admitting there are things they don’t know. It took me until my 40s and a PhD in Physics, along with around 10 years at MIT to understand that there are a LOT of things I don’t understand. Asking for help is part of life.

Have I always asked for help?

Nope. Mostly it is because sometimes it takes me so long to explain to someone what the problem is it is faster for me to solve it myself. Is that my fault? Oh absolutely as I don’t communicate the way most people do.

When I explain something and I think my explanation is obvious, there are times people look at me like a dog with it’s head tilted. I think I’m doing a good job, I’m convinced they are just stupid (I used to think that) and now I get that it’s just me.

I work hard every single day on my communication skills and do now ask for help. I don’t always get it, but is it my fault for not explaining my needs well? Sometimes, because as it turns out the way I explain it the thing I’m asking about doesn’t seem like a big problem to most people. I need to explain not just the issue, but the impact that issue is having on something else, which is not what I am really good at (yet).

I can’t speak for all people on the spectrum, but I know over the years not asking for help has screwed me up more often than it has helped me. It has (and I can admit it) prevented my career from advancing as fast as it could have.

This concludes our seven part series. Will I write more on this subject? Well, who knows what tomorrow may bring, but in the mean time I am working on a few new book projects. Wrapping up another as we speak to be out before Christmas. There are more following that! Enjoy the blog, check out the books, and let’s hope that we can cross the finish line into a movie soon!

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 6 of 7

This is part 6 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is really well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

Autistic people give a better, more rewarding reaction when bullied.

Many bullies, or as we say in the politically correct world of the professional workplace, employees with dominant personalities, are looking for a specific reaction from someone when they do their “thing.” They may not even realize it, but they are looking for something.

So, let’s take this in context with the other 6 parts of this series. Autistics will do anything, say anything, even bend over backwards to be liked. Bullies by default don’t seem to like the people they are bullying. Therefore, I have seen it, people on the spectrum will bend over backwards, work their ass off, beg, plead, even screw up their personal lives to make someone happy.

Some people just can’t be happy. People on the spectrum have a hard time understanding that, and will work themselves silly, stay up at night, fret and worry over why this one particular person that they are trying to get to like them to do so, and it took me years to realize that in some cases it just won’t ever happen.

If you are not on the spectrum and you see someone you suspect might be falling into this trap, pull them aside and talk to them. Call it a mentoring moment, whatever you want but give them a hand. They will appreciate it in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 4 of 7

This is part 4 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is really well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

Autistic people tend to take things literally, making them very easy to manipulate

Ok, as an autistic I may not be the best person to explain when this happens. It happens to me all the time. People say “hey let’s get you a promotion,” to me means a promotion is coming….now. It doesn’t mean what most people think.

Hey “I really liked your idea,” could mean yeah it was cute, but not going to be done in this case. To me that is fantastic let’s move forward.

People pick up on this. If they want me to take a crap task when I’m working for someone else you will hear things like “this kind of thing really matters at year end reviews,” which means it matters, but it won’t help. You can list it on your accomplishments but it won’t help you get anywhere because it is a task no one cares about, no one wants and anyone can do (they just avoid).

I take that to mean it will help and the next six months are spent working on this crap task, and it does me no good. This was commonplace when I made my living as an engineer, which I no longer do, but be careful if you fall into the same category I did!

BTW, if you are not autistic and you do find people who take stuff literally, and you do this kind of thing to them…shame on you. It advances YOUR career at the cost of someone else’s and I hope you don’t sleep well and giant fire ants invade your next picnic.

 

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 3 of 7

This is part 3 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

 

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is really well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

People with autism are not able to read body language or other social cues, which makes it hard to read intentions.

In other words, if you have a weekly poker game, bring an autistic. Ok, that was a joke.

Seriously, in any kind of business negotiation would you want to be the person that actually has to depend upon what people say instead of their body language? I have learned this one the really hard way over the years.

Should I name names here? Oh if only I were allowed to. There are so many people out there in business situations, exchanges and negotiations that do NOT say what they mean, they say some vague thing that can be interpreted a variety of ways (in some cases they outright lie). It is up to you, the receiver of their spewed forth crap to interpret what it is they really mean.

That is why, especially after a more recent debacle, I always get things in writing. If you are on the spectrum and negotiating something do not depend on what people say. Get it in writing, and then have someone else review it for you (a lawyer comes to mind). That advice actually works for non-autistics as well, but most neurotypical people are better at picking up the scumbags from the non scumbags than I am.

Autistics as targets…scapegoats for others part 2 of 7

This is part 2 of a series. If you have not read part 1, I encourage you to do so, and but if not, everything in italics is carry over from that post in case you have not seen it. If you have, skip past that part and move forward to the new information.

 

As some of you know I am on the autism spectrum. I am what is known as a highly functional autistic. Do I accomplish things? Sure. Do I have many of the traits autistics have, absolutely. Do I wish I didn’t? Well, I’d be lying if I didn’t say there are days…but then there are days I think I’m just who I am.

My case is a little different than most. I didn’t know I was on the spectrum until I was older (in my 40s). How could that have happened? Well I can sum it up quickly.

About ten years ago I got married to a wonderful, very understanding woman. We have three kids. About the time number two came along we had kids to pediatricians as every parent does. We answered all the questions about a variety of subjects, well our second son is on the spectrum. Then, I called my mother (the child’s grandmother) with a “kid update” and the subject came up. Low and behold, my mother said something along the lines of you were diagnosed with that as a kid and we never told you.

What?

You what?

First, how could you not tell someone. But that’s not the point here. If I had known that years prior it could have saved me from making some huge mistakes in life, or at least allowed me to arm myself appropriately. Am I still angry about this? Well, in some ways, but I can’t change the past, and I can’t change who I am so I’m moving on.

Why put all this on my website, especially when you can see at the top that I have written some books that I hope you read and enjoy? Well, I came across this blog on wordpress called askpergers (askpergers.wordpress.com) that is realy well done. He deserves some thank you from me for helping me understand a few things.

The author had a post that deserves some attention. He listed out 7 different reasons for autistics being the targets of bullies, people who would take advantage of someone, or in general what I like to call assholes.

I will go into all 7 of his reasons and why I agree with him or can offer up some measure of personal example of how this happened and what might be possible to do to prevent it in the future.

Autistic people may not have as big a circle of friends to stand up for them as other people do

It has always been a challenge for me to make friends either inside or outside the workplace. When I make friends I tend to be clingy, I tend to want to spend every single moment with that person and if I don’t get that opportunity I assume something is wrong, then things get worse (especially with women prior to my wife, God bless her patience).

As a result there are very few people willing to “stick up for me.” You know how it goes. You are at lunch, on a break…someone says “hey what do you think about so and so.” It’s either he’s hard to get to know, or he’s clingy, or needy, or whatever. However, because I don’t have as many or make friends as quickly there is no one there (commonly) yes he’s a good guy! He should be put in this other job, handle these other tasks, bring him to the ball game, whatever the case that doesn’t happen for me.

That also leaves me in a position where in a career bullying may not be present (although it has been) but I am the guy who gets the work no one else wants. Typically this work is thankless and NOT the kind of thing that leads to promotion. It is the crap, the stuff no one wants, not high profile at all. It is a large challenge for me, and remains so to this day, but it is something I strive to improve upon personally. Hopefully someday I’ll get it right, then I can get the work that matters.

The challenge also, at least for me, is that when I do get the work that matters other people tend to find a way to take credit for it. Then it is my word against theirs on who actually did it, and it won’t be a fight you win alone, thus the need for friends in the right places! See, these social things really do matter. I wish I knew that earlier on in my career, but that’s ok you learn new things in life and move forward!