Friday, March 9, 2012

Walls, Fences and Open Fields...

It is a wonderful thing to learn, to grown and to change...I've always said, and I still believe "if you're not learning you're dead!"

Being socially challenged has its challenges (eww redundant but necessary lol), and in recent days I have been working hard to examine my skills, limitations, beliefs and behaviors around friendship, relationship, boundaries (what are boundaries? I sometimes have to ask...) It seems that so many of us adults with AgCC (and I imagine children too) have so many issues, not simply with socializing, but "appropriate" boundaries (those that have been accorded by the societies we live in.)

It might be rightfully mentioned that AgCC, while seeing some common things across the board, effects those that have it in an entire spectrum.  Some of us are "mentally challenged" (HATE that term) and have IQs under 80, (sometimes even under 50), while some like myself have an IQ of 139, which is considered to be slightly above average, and others even show up on the Mensa scale...all fine and good.  Yet research bares out the existence of more than one type of intelligence.

For example there is intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, social, body, and other types identified.  Particularly, I've always had personal difficulty with social and body intelligence.

When I go into a large room filled with people, it isn't that I'm necessarily agoraphobic...that being said...

Say that you and I are having a conversation, in a room with 20 other peoples, or even make it just 2 other peoples,  my verbal acuity is so finely tuned and open to the environment, it is as if I hear the conversations of all 20 (or 4) peoples in the room, and my brain is unable to differentiate the sounds, the conversations...they all blend into one.  Furthermore in depth examinations have shown (actually demonstrated or "presented" in the correct terminology) that when I have verbal input going into both ears, it can cause my overall cognitive abilities to decompensate, even to the point where my brain cannot comprehend any of the language around me.  At this point, my creative, fantasy driven right brain starts making scenarios and stories, that are more powerful (to me) than even what is going on in the external brain trying to cope with what it perceives as extreme overload. 

On top of this, when they studied me, they discovered that while my ability to pick up verbal cues can be rather well developed that my ability to recognize facial cues and responses is lacking.  Some might say "learn it, you can do it if you try hard enough" but the facts are that the hardware simply is not present for my brain/computer to do this.  This leaves me with a rather interesting conundrum, which for years, until I understood it led to much confusion and suffering. 

Anybody that knows me, family, friends etc...can tell you I was always a very verbal child (turns out my cousin tells me the entire family was "verbal" LOL), so on first glance, I do know how to present the appropriate initial social behaviors...and as my pop always (lovingly) said when I was young, "I could 'charm the balls off a brass monkey.'"  Yet, anyone who has also spent time with me can recognize that at a certain point, I seem to be "off point." You and I can be, for example talking about, say, "taxes" for 10 minutes, and out of the blue I'm talking about the New York Yankees, but you (nor anybody else but me) sees any connection whatsoever in the seems disjointed and inappropriate (putting it kindly) to others.

Perhaps the most annoying factor is that until diagnosed (and truthfully much of the time even afterwards) we may be unaware of this...and for all intents and purposes appear very bizarre to those "on the outside" of the phenomenon.

While my exact explanation and experience is likely very different from an other individual adult with AgCC, I'm guessing that their own experience falls somewhere along the same lines.

You have simply to consider the social implications of such a cognitive defect/difference to perhaps begin to understand that we tend toward having difficulty with  personal and professional boundaries.  Often not recognizing that either our thinking and/or our behavior has "missed the mark" until long after "the deed is done."  We get called, crazy, dreamer, liar, misfit...and dozens of other ugly and inaccurate descriptions.  Many, if not most of us, at least in the eyes of the society we live in don't "measure up" in emotional maturity and social skills.  Some of us have, and continue to isolate ourselves, in an effort to protect ourselves (and others) from all of this.

Many of us have undergone sexual abuse as children, or even young (or older) adults, because we lacked the developed social understanding that would tell us what was happening was inappropriate...we present as naive, and vulnerable, even when sporting an assumed self confidence.

I'm guessing, someone on the outside of this neurological defect might ask why we didn't tell our doctors, therapists, professionals about it, such as I have described above...well...think about it this way:

If a (wo)man is blind from birth, can they tell you they are?  I mean, would it be possible for them to tell you "I don't see the sun rising" if in fact they never did and never could do so?  It is much the same.  Furthermore many of us with AgCC lack an adequate internal sense, particular one that we could describe to ourselves or others.  This is especially true (for me as an adult) prior to the diagnoses.  Doctors and therapists, previously could not image the brain in such a way, (or simply often did not) doing so discovering that the largest structure in the human brain happens to be missing in us.

Speaking for myself, when this was definitively diagnosed, years of pain, preoccupation with suffering, and guilt began to melt away, and continues to do so.  I laugh, I used to say, "well, normal people do thus and such, but I do/do not thus and such."  I clearly understand now, that there is not one human being on the earth without both skills and deficits, mine just happen to be far more noticeable... Now every morning, with peace in my heart and mind I can look in the mirror (literally and the mirror of my life) and behold the new normal, the Joe Normal, the unique individual that I am.

 Love to all,
~Just Joe

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