Jan. 21, 2013 (2)

Irish Gypsies came out of the time of the potato famine (from Gerdette Rooney, Irish Couchsurfer I met in Trinidad). She was so funny. Gerdette and I were looking for a locals bar where we could have a rum drink. One guy directed us to the upper-scale Mangoes, saying the other places were “unsafe.” “I love feeling unsafe,” said Gerdette. “It gets my adrenalin going!” Ha ha. I couldn’t top that response. We found a nice, safe, locals bar and had a couple rum-and-cokes (I couldn’t drink more that about 1/5 of my second drink, the rum was that strong! Gerdette managed to down it.

Gerdette told me about Immrama, an annual book fair in Lismore, Dervla Murphy’s hometown.

I heard this wonderful quote lately: “I haven’t given up men. I’ve given up worrying about men.” So right! I don’t want any more men in my life about whom I have to worry (Does he love me? Where is he? What’s he doing? etc.).


Vendors go through the neighborhoods here in Cumana. Vendors on bikes have a special horn: they’re selling fish. The basket on the front of their bikes leak water from the melting ice around the fresh fish. Other vendors call out their wares. It’s just like Mom’s Boston neighborhood in the period around 1915. The rag man (always Jewish), the Italian fruit and vegetable vendors, and others.


The Ayahuasca ritual showed me something very important about myself. For many years (since my late 20s), I have been like a blind woman, feeling my way through life in the dark. I have never known if I was on the right path for me; I have never known if I was going the right way. I took many chances, many wrong turns, and I have usually been afraid and without much confidence in myself.

The Yage (and the shaman) showed me that I have been on the right path (for me) all along. I have arrived at a major checkpoint on my journey though life. The Yage is a big relief; I feel validated and reassured.

I see my life as though it were the Iditarod or the Yukon Quest, those long, extreme dogsled races in Alaska and Canada. It’s alternately gruelling and blissful. I see myself as a human in the race, but I could just as easily be a dog. I am getting to the point where I can change from being a competitor (someone who is trying to beat others and WIN) to being a participant: someone who enjoys the race and does it out of love for the sport, the land, the dogs, and for what it brings out in me.

I receive Cosmic Energy from the sun and the stars. I get love from many Sentient Beings along the way, and I try to return that love.

Few showers in the Caribbean (and at Jean Luis and Susy’s house) have hot water. Not necessary. Almost always warm weather.


I believe one of my children has BPD:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) (called emotionally unstable personality disorder, borderline type in the ICD-10) is a personality disorder marked by a prolonged disturbance of personality function, characterized by unusual variability and depth of moods. These moods may secondarily affect cognition and interpersonal relations.

(see the rest of the article at Wikipedia)


People with Asperger Syndrome

People with Asperger’s syndrome often report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills and poor financial status. In a similar fashion to school bullying, the person with Aspergers syndrome is vulnerable to problems in their neighborhood, such as anti-social behavior and harassment. Due to social isolation, they can be seen as the ‘black sheep’ in the community and thus may be at risk of wrongful suspicions and allegations from others.

(from: autism-help.org)

This last sentence (“Due to social isolation…”) is true, and I have experienced it. It’s horrible! I think most people with Asperger Syndrome live in fear of this happening. I know I do.

The simple fact that we Aspies don’t flirt made dating confusing and almost impossible for me. After two years of college, I married the first man who was interested in me; I asked him to marry me.

Not being able to make friends easily (or at all) makes life very hard. Being aware of one’s autism is an extremely positive factor in the Aspie’s life.  With this knowledge, the Aspie can connect with other autistics (in person [GRASP groups meet all around the US] and online), and she (or he) can understand herself and her life much better than if she didn’t know.

Couchsurfing is a true Godsend for me. It’s a free website for travellers. “Surfers” are welcomed into people’s houses, and, as one CSer said to me recently, we are suddenly have a new best friend for a few days. While long, close friendships may not result (because we usually don’t see these people again), Couchsurfing is still a really amazing experience for an Aspie like me.

I’ve met wonderful people through Couchsurfing. They like me, too.I have over 200 positive references from CSers I’ve stayed with or met on my travels. I am starting to have a small group of CSers who I do see once a year or so. And

I am “Friends” with several CSers on Facebook. These connections mean the world to an autistic adult (or teenager).

On my travels, I educate people about Asperger Syndrome and autism. I also show people how to live on the road, and how to do it in one’s 60s! And I tell them about the US (especially the beautiful, open land and all the wild animals). I tell them about hitchhiking and camping and about the places where I have traveled. I have lots of interesting stories, too, like about hearing owls making love,  and the rattlesnake “combat dance” I saw, and about Yellowknife, NWT, Canada (ice six feet thick, the Northern Lights, a herd of bison, 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the wolves outside town…).


Parents with Asperger Syndrome

…list from a Conference in 2005 given by Dr Tony Attwood (originally found on faaas.org):

The Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome

• Knowledge of normal childhood abilities and the parental role.
• Perfectionism.
• Regimentation.
• Anger.
• Abuse.

Child’s Perception
• Lack of affection, understanding and support. (Aloof).
• Criticism not compliments.
• Embarrassment in public.
• Fear of the parent’s mood and not to antagonize.
• Fear of the ‘cold’ touch of affection.
• Disagreements between parents.
• Parent has a monologue on their own problems.
• Intolerance of noise and friendships.
• Egocentric priorities.
• Favoritism.
• Feeling a nuisance.
• Desire to leave home or move inter-state or abroad.

Child’s Reaction
• Seeking affection and approval.
• Hatred.
• Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative family.
• Choice of partner.

• Recognizing the disorder in a parent.
• Resolving past issues.
• Explaining the person to other family members.

from: http://doris-mash.blogspot.com/2008/02/parents-with-aspergers.html


“…are there, or were there, brilliant and creative but blatantly eccentric family members?”

(from: http://www.netplaces.com/parenting-kids-with-aspergers-syndrome/family-dynamics/parents-with-aspergers.htm)

My answer to this question is definitely YES. My birth-brother in Orlando is a brilliant and eccentric cardiologist. Our father (my birth-father, Brown Hill Boswell) was a medical doctor; our grandfather, Frederick Page Boswell, was also a medical doctor. Both men committed suicide.


This excerpt is from  Dr. Tony Attwood, one of the relatively few psychologists to be widely respected within the Asperger/autism community:

Do Girls Have A Different Expression Of The Syndrome?

The boy to girl ratio for referrals for a diagnostic assessment is about ten boys to each girl (Gillberg 1989). However, the epidemiological evidence indicates the ratio is 4:1 (Ehlers and Gillberg 1993). This is the same ratio as occurs with Autism. Why are so few girls referred for a diagnosis?

So far there have not been any studies that specifically investigate any variation in expression of features between boys and girls with Asperger’s Syndrome, but the author has noticed that in general boys tend to have a greater expression of social deficits with a very uneven profile of social skills and a propensity for disruptive or aggressive behavior, especially when frustrated or stressed. These characteristics are more likely to be noticed by parents and teachers who then seek advice as to why the child is unusual. In contrast, girls tend to be relatively more able in social play and have a more even profile of social skills. The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. There is some preliminary evidence to substantiate this distinction from a study of sex differences in Autism (McLennan, Lord and Schopler 1993).

Girls with this syndrome are more likely to be considered immature rather than odd. Their special interests may not be as conspicuous and intense as occurs with boys. Thus, they can be described as the “invisible” child and socially isolated, preoccupied by their imaginary world but not a disruptive influence in the classroom. Although girls are less likely to be diagnosed, they are more likely to suffer in silence.

An important issue for girls is that during adolescence the usual basis for friendship changes. Instead of joint play with toys and games using imagination, adolescent friendship is based on conversation that is predominantly about experiences, relationships and feelings. The young teenage girl with Asperger’s Syndrome may want to continue the playground games of the primary school and starts to reduce her contact with previous friends. They no longer share the same interests. There is also the new problem of coping with the amorous advances of teenage boys. Here conversation is acceptable but concepts of romance and love as well as physical intimacy are confusing or abhorrent.

In an attempt to be included in social activities, some teenage girls have described how they have deliberately adopted a “mask” like quality to their face. To others at school they seem to continuously express a smile, but behind the mask the person is experiencing anxiety, fear and self-doubt. They are desperate to be included and to please and appease others but cannot express their inner feelings in public.

The author has observed girls with the classic signs of Asperger’s Syndrome in their primary school years progress along the Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome continuum to a point where the current diagnostic criteria are no longer sensitive to the more subtle problems they face. The author’s clinical experience would suggest that girls have a better long-term prognosis than boys. They appear to be more able to learn how to socialize and to camouflage their difficulties at an early age.



Tony Attwood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tony Attwood (born 9 February 1952, Birmingham, England) is an English psychologist who lives in Queensland, Australia and is an author of several books on Asperger’s Syndrome.

He received an honours degree in psychology from the University of Hull, an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Surrey, and a Ph.D. from University College London under Uta Frith. His book, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, provides information on diagnosis, problems of social relations, sensory issues, motor control and other typical issues which face people with Asperger’s and their support networks. The book has now been translated into 20 languages.

Attwood also has a clinical practice at his diagnostic and treatment clinic for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, in Brisbane, begun in 1992.


I am very interested in the whole phenomenon of nomadic people coming into contact with sedentary people. This has been going on for thousands of years.
The meeting of travellers and agriculturalists has always benefited both groups. The nomads bring trade goods, ideas and information from far away to the settled people who have their produce and livestock to trade and information about their towns to impart.
The misunderstandings on both sides are probably the same today as they were long ago. But computers are making knowledge and information accessible to more people every day. The vast shipping industry makes goods from distant places available to many people.
The exchanges continue, both online in groups like Couchsurfing and social media like Facebook.
Immigration with its multitude of social and personal dimensions is an endless process.

Against this background of shipping, computers and immigrants (including exiles, refugees, and displaced people) the waves of nomadic people flow constantly and usually invisibly around the globe. And the farmers and ranchers, who are dependent on the weather and the economics of their towns, rise early to seek the safety and stability they need to reap the gifts of Mother Earth.


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