Thursday, October 14, 2010

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)

Lately I've been reading about Central Auditory Processing Disorder.  CAPD is often a co morbid condition of autism, ADD, OCD, and more, but it can stand alone.  CAPD is diagnosed by an audiologist who utilizes a variety of testing methods.  First a hearing test must be conducted.  Then the auditory processing testing takes place in a sound-proof booth and includes listening to different words in each ear at the same time, distinguishing between those words as well as between words with slightly different sounds, trying to understand statements while also hearing loud background noise (ex., the sounds of a crowd of people babbling), and more. 

Some of the symptoms in children (as listed at ):

Frequently misunderstands oral instructions or questions
Delays in responding to oral instructions or questions
Says "Huh" or "What" frequently
Frequently needs repetition of directions or information
Frequently needs requests repetition
Has problems understanding in background noise
Is easily distracted by background noise
May have problems with phonics or discriminating speech sounds
May have poor expressive or receptive language
May have spelling, reading, and other academic problems
May have behavioral problems 

It's possible that an adult who refuses to acknowledge autism or asperger's (and refuses to undergo psychological testing) might be open to being tested by an audiologist for an auditory processing disorder.   A diagnosis of CAPD could be very helpful in an NT/AS relationship.  Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of an underlying medical condition (especially one which could be contributing to communication problems) would be a step forward in a suffering marriage!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Theology and the Autistic Mind

Much has been written about how the brilliance and logic of the autistic mind often finds a home in engineering, computing, accounting, and music.  But there is little published about the autistic mind when applied to the special interest of theology.

It does seem that many Christians with Asperger's Syndrome and High Functioning Autism are drawn to Reformed theology.  Reformed theology is logical, rational, and seeks to interpret the Bible with an intellectual approach, explaining what the Bible teaches within an accurate historical context.  So it makes sense that when an aspie's interest is theology and religion, he could become obsessed with a branch of theology that has a very logical, rational (and often literal within the context of each text) interpretation of the Scriptures.

But within Reformed theology there is an extreme branch to which many of the most philosophical, logical, and intellectual men are particularly drawn, called Biblical Theology.  It is also referred to as the Redemptive-Historical method of interpretation.  This group is highly criticized for not applying the Word to the people, or "for not drawing the text into a person's world."  Its opponents say it is "too theological and too intellectual for Sunday morning."  For the typical man or woman in the pew, a diet of such sermons is a starvation diet as practical application of the Bible to everyday life is ignored. 

People with traits of Asperger's Syndrome often have a very different way of understanding human relationships.  And in theology, there could be a distinct difference in how the aspie understands both a relationship to God and the Bible's application to one's life.  An aspie may thrive under Redemptive Historical teaching as it reaches his intellect like no other theology can.  Aspies generally have a gift for being intrinsically motivated when they comprehend a rule or truth, so a person with strong Asperger's traits may be able to make his own sort of application from such teaching.  But the typical believer is unhappy when he is unable to clearly understand how what he sees and hears applies to his personal relationship with God, the text, and others.  He wants and needs to be taught how the Bible applies to him.

All this to say . . . Neuro-typical women (particularly those who are married to men with autistic traits) should be aware of the potential dangers in Redemptive Historical teaching. You may already be struggling emotionally and feeling very lonely due to autism in your home.  It is probable that such preaching, and likely the leadership in such a church, won't help you.  Being a member of a church which strongly adheres to "Biblical Theology" may cause a woman in an Asperger's relationship to suffer even more.  Find a church with solid doctrine that also includes practical application from the Bible.  You need such teaching and guidance in order to grow spiritually.  Take care.  Make sure you are in a church that can truly nourish your soul!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

But What About All These Emotions

The primary question that keeps coming back to the NT in an NT/AS relationship, is "What about all my emotions?"  How to understand and deal with all the feelings that attack, confuse, and frustrate the NT on a daily basis is something I have not mastered.

I've never thought of myself as a people pleaser, codependent, or one who is easily swayed by peer pressure.  But the book When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man by Edward Welch is eye-opening in its discussions of emotions and our relationship to God and man.

One helpful phrase from the book that is worth memorizing is

"Need people less, and love people more."

When I am struggling with my emotions, I reflect on those words and try to change my focus.  I should need God more than I need others.  I should care more what God thinks about me than what others think of me.  And I should be loving toward those who do not love me back (at least in the way I expect that they should).  


Sunday, October 3, 2010

NT/AS Clue: In Sickness and In Sickness

NT/AS Clue:  When the NT is sick, the Aspie should frequently check in and see how she is and find out if she needs anything.  The NT must put on a robe of forgiveness, drop all of her normal expectations, and ask for what she needs.

This seems to be a recurring theme for me, and I believe it is for many NT aspie's wives.  When we are sick and are consequently ignored, all of the anger and bitterness, self-pity and loneliness, pain, and as much as I hate to admit it, what could honestly be labeled in these moments as hatred comes bubbling up to the surface. 

I mistakenly thought and hoped that bad stuff in my heart was almost gone.  The truth is that I have a long way to go, much to work on in myself, and times of pain, trials, and afflictions bring to light my weaknesses.  The great news is that in our weakest moments, when we are at the end of ourselves and have nothing left, we know grace and the power of God to give us strength.

What can the aspie do to help his NT wife when she is ill?  Try checking in with her once per hour.  Ask if she needs a drink, something to eat, or some medicine.  If she needs something, go and get it as quickly as you can and take it to her.  Ask her how she is feeling.  Tell her "I'm sorry you are sick."  If you do these things, she will feel loved.  If you don't do these things, she'll feel like you are treating her like dirt and she will probably be very, very angry with you.  What you neglect to do can have devastating effects.

What should the NT wife do when she is sick?  Drop all expectations that your aspie instinctively knows or even habitually remembers the most basic kindnesses expected when someone is ill.  If you can manage to get out of bed, try to take care of yourself as best as you can.  Otherwise, ask for water.  Ask for medicine.  Ask for soup.  Pray, especially in your weakest moments, to be loving, kind, patient and forgiving.  Remember that his brain doesn't naturally know these things and he is not intending to hurt you!

Learn from the hard times and make an effort to teach your aspie children the unwritten social "rules" so that they grow up knowing what is expected of them in specific scenarios like this.

Sniff. Sneeze.
And a big, big SIGH.