The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch
81: But for our mortality there’d be no need for churches, mosques, temples, or synagogues. … Faith is for the heartbroken, the embittered, the doubting, and the dead.
156: Post mortem caloricity, they taught us in mortuary school, was the name for the way the body warms immediately after death occurs. The cells keep dividing, metabolising, exchanging oxygen and protein, doing their accustomed work. With no exhaust system—breathing, sweating, weeping, farting—the system overheats. The cells shut down. Punch the clock. Call it a day. Then the dead body cools to room temperature, nearly thirty degrees cooler than the rest of us, accounting for one of our most frequently asked questions—why is it cold?
So there is a difference, an important difference, between when we die to our stethoscopes and encephalograms: somatic death; when we die to our nerve ends and molecules: metabolic death…
Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Temple Grandin
-01- our mouth full” or “Raise your hand in class before speaking.” So too was the initial idea for the book: Talk about some of the unwritten social rules you learned along the way. However, the more immersed one becomes in social situations and social understanding, the more intricate and interwoven are those rules, the less clear-cut they become. We descended into that realm of fuzzy boundaries and more exceptions than rules the more we talked about the book.
-02- imagining,” within a fog of autism so dense that nothing existed beyond the fog. He was a solitary boy, curious only about things he already knew, but wanted to hear repeated. Order and calm lived only within sameness; odd rules came to govern his daily interactions. It was a horrible, frightening, out-of-control world; whatever behaviors gave him even a minuscule degree of reprieve became his lifeline to survival.
-03- own, or something he didn’t understand. Some of these chal- lenges continued into his adult life; not asking for help was per- haps the longest lasting of al
-04- wrong with him, that he was “bad.” He was self-focused, not by choice but by his autism. Managing the fear and anxiety associ- ated with daily functioning was ofte
-05- manifest when neuronal connections that link up the many different parts of the brain fail to hook up. The frontal cor- tex is the most affected area and the back part of the brain, where memories are stored, is usually more normal. They have also found that the brain areas that process emotional signals from the eyes are abnormal. Variability in the parts of the brain that are not wired properly would explain why behaviors and feelings can be so different amo
-06- often depressing and continually anxiety-laden. We offer this book in the hope that people of both cultures- those with autism and neurotypicals alike-can gain a deeper awareness of and appreciation for the other. To do tliat, we can think of no better way than sharing with you
-07- about something over and over again that the kids didn’t really like, one of my fixations. For instance, one of the neighbors had a fake donkey where you’d push the ear down, the tail would go up and a cigarette would emerge from the donkey’s butt. In the ’50s, this was akin to a dirty joke. I thought that donkey was the funniest thing I had ever seen and I kept wanting to talk about it and talk about it and talk about it. The kids eventually got sick of hearing me go on and on, but what was good was that they just told me to stop. Plain and simple:
-08- use she knew me so well, I could try to enjoy them, trusting that when it got to be too much for me, she’d take me out of the situation. I give Mother a lot of credit for her acute understanding of my boundaries and when and how far she could push me.
-09- Cathi Cohen, in her book, Raise Your Child’s Social IQ, offers the following list of characteristics of children with positive and negative self-esteem: Kids with High Self-Esteem Have fairly stable moods Set realistic goals and achieve them Have self-mo tivation and “stick- to-it-ness” Can accept rejection or critical feedback Can say “no” to peers Are realistically aware of their own strengths and weaknesses Kids with Low Self-Esteem Often blame others for their actions Need to be liked by everyone See themselves as losers Are critical of others Get frustrated easily Have trouble accepting responsibility for their actions Make negative comments about themselves Tend to be quitters The “fix it” mentality that seems more prevalent today wasn’t part of my younger years, either. While I did have speech thera- py in elementary school, and would visit a psychiatrist once a mon
-10- online or within a different environment. A colossal amount of energy is needed just to manage the stress and anxiety that builds up every day in this type of environment; it leaves lit- tle left over for academics. And, socializing with teenagers is not a skill I or others will use later in life. I’m not saying everybody with ASD has to be taken out of high school. Actually, I think the lower-functioning kids have an easier time. Their needs are usu- ally more obvious, to both the school
-11- opportunities. And that door led to another, and another, and another. Many people with ASD never seem to grasp this idea; I licy see only one door if they see any at all. I also realized that I ~iccded to “start at the bottom and work up.” That meant doing ~lic things that were delegated to me, even the things I didn’t real- ly lkel that charged up about doing.
-12- or biochemical circuitry is missing-no matter how hard we try, it’s a bridge that may never be built because some of the basic building materials are missing. For others on the spectrum, the building materials that create emotional relatedness are there and it’s just a matter of assembling them into a structural whole that forms that bridge. They are different paths, that’s all, and people on both paths can lead happy, productive lives. Unfortunately, many people on and off the spectrum still characterize one as inferior, or somehow lacking in options over the other. this, I disagree. It is a statement that speaks to a lack of understand- ing of the different way some of our minds work. In some regard, it is more an issue of physiology than psychology,
-13- benchmarks along the way that can gauge whether or not learn- ing is taking place, social awareness can’t be neatly covered by a single
-14- more association-circuits in their cortex so they develop highly complex emotional connections.
-15- he is apt to feel unable to control his own destiny, to affect his future, powerless over his actions. This fosters a sense of help- lessness that drains whatever motivation the person may have to try (or try harder when needed) to be socially engaged. I’ve wit- nessed this in many children who don’t think social skills are “necessary” and in so many of my peers today who have given up because it takes more effort than they are willing to give. There are other Aspie adults who feel the rest of the world is at fault and that responsibility for their social acceptance lies with ever
-16- help them with social skills and social understanding should clearly understand the distinction be tween social func- tioning skills and emotional relatedness. The first is way of acting; the second is a way of feeling. They are very different from one another, and yet seem to be treated as the same within many of the popular social skills training programs that are developed for people with ASD. They also seem to be lumped together when- ever conversation turns to “social skills.” This is a disservice to the autistic population and only further complicates for them what is already a complicated realm of understanding. It also muddies the waters in trying to teach social awareness and social competency to a child on the spectrum. Learning social functioning skills is like learning your role in a play. When I was a little kid, being a child of the ’50s, there was a priority placed on manners and etiquette and knowing how to act appropriately in different social settings. Social skills like sharing, turn-taking, playing with other kids-those things were
-17- Will he miss me when I’m gone?” And, it’s really hard to give them an honest answer, because with some kids, they might end up missing their computer more. Mother talks about this in her book, A Thorn in My Pocket, and how terrible a thought it is for most parents to even entertain. It’s not a statement of the value the child feels for their parent-in many cases it’s simply more biology than it is bonding. My brain scan shows that some emotional circuits between the frontal cortex and the amygdala just aren’t hooked up-circuits that affect my emotions and are tied into my ability to feel love. I experience the emotion of love, but it’s not the same way that most neurotypical people do. Does that mean my love is less valuable than what other peo- ple feel?
-18- of Neurophysiology (see References for citation) described a research study done on the brains of seventeen young men and women who were newly and “madly” in love. The multidiscipli- nary team found support for their two major predictions: (1) early stage, intense romantic love is associated with subcortical reward regions rich with dopamine; and (2) romantic love engages brain systems associated with motivation to acquire a reward. Using functional MRI scans, they discovered love-related neurophysiological systems operating in the brain, and postulat- ed that romantic love may 11ave more to do with motivation, ACT ONE, Scene One reward and “drive” aspects of behavior than it does with emotions or the sex drive. One of the researchers was quoted as saying, “As it turns out, romantic love is probably best characterized as a motivation or goal-oriented state that leads to various specific emotions, such as euphoria or anxiety” The researchers also cited their findings as applicable to the autism population