Category Archives: Me and my Vulcan

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Me & My Vulcan: Loving an Autistic guy. Talking to Walls

It’s been a long while since I talked about me & my Vulcan. Autism is a topic that I like to talk about from time to time when exciting things happen. The other day we went to have a pint with an old neighbor of ours to a nearby pub. As you know, my Vulcan has High Functioning Autism, aka HFA. He went out of the autistic closet, and to our surprise, our old neighbor told us about his group at Uni where people talk about diversity of all types. One of the girls has HFA too. In trying to explain how she feels when talking to people she had a brilliant idea: let’s talk to walls.

At first sight, this might seem silly. But, we’ve tried it as soon as we came back home and it works. I’m the neurotypical illogical part of this partnership that is going to celebrate ten years of happy entanglement. For me, it’s hard to understand what happens in my Vulcan’s head. However, there’s always a new way to get to understand my sweetie. It looks like walls work miracles!

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Pepi in Wonderland: 3/11 will be always there

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Today I have a very emotional Pepi in Wonderland because we’re going to remember the 3/11. As you know, five years ago, a huge Earthquake and Tsunami hit the northern part of Japan. This was a megathrust, a one in every 1000 years quake that would turn upside-down the lives of thousands in Japan. For those who were there, I included, it meant a point in our lives in which we would re-think what we were doing and assess our time on this beautiful Earth of ours. Lives were lost, time stopped, and all the evils into our hearts went out in the blink of an eye. Families were torn apart, marriages were broken, jobs were lost, and the fear in our hearts was, in just minutes, there to remember us how flickering our lives really are.

There is but one thing that marked me for the rest of my days. One action of my loved one: a promise.

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Valentine’s Day: A nightmare for some Autistic people

depepi, autism, me and my vulcan

Valentine’s day can be a nightmare for some autistic people like my Vulcan. Valentine’s day is a day to celebrate feelings, but what if you cannot understand them? Or what if you get easily overwhelmed by them? What if you don’t understand why you need a day to celebrate love when you can do it every day of the year? When I first met my Vulcan asked me that very last question: why do we need a celebration of love when you can celebrate it every single day? It does sound romantic, isn’t it? However, he was just asking the obvious logical thing. Why do we need a Valentine day for love if we can love each other every single day?

depepi, autism, me and my vulcan

Valentine’s day, like any other celebration, requires thinking about presents and postcards with lots of sloppy writing on them. These activities can be very challenging for someone who understands feelings in an entirely different way. First, choosing a present is a nightmare for my Vulcan. As I stated in other posts, I create lists with goodies (usually geek stuff I’d love to have) so that he has some guidelines and doesn’t feel nervous nor lost in trying to make me feel happy “on an illogical day to celebrate something you can celebrate on a daily basis.”

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When Xmas becomes a Nightmare, HFA meltdowns

We think that the entire world love Xmas, but not everyone does. When Xmas becomes a nightmare for neurotypicals, can you imagine how it must be like for an autistic person? My Vulcan is Italian. He was raised into a very stereotypical Italian family who celebrated Xmas very much in the way the video up above shows up. Even if you don’t understand what they say, you can feel that the main character is fed up with getting scarfs as presents, while the kid gets 300 bucks, cannot stand the staggering amounts of food that the family serves, and is annoyed to death with Gestapo questionnaires, Xmas poetry and noisy folks. And yes, the Xmas tree in process of biodegradation is not an exaggeration! [My cousin left hers at the entrance of the house three years ago… Colors have started to fade out. Just saying that… the Xmas tree thing is real!] So, if it can be such a nightmare for us, can you imagine how it might be for an autistic fellow? Living hell!

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Lessons on Geek Anthropology: Castiel, the Autistic Angel

This week’s lessons on Geek Anthropology is a little bit unusual. We’re going to explore Castiel, the Autistic Angel. Autism is a reality to many families, including mine. If you’ve read this blog, you might have found that from time to time I write about my Vulcan, my Mr.Spock. I like to use Spock for him since it’s one of his favorite characters, but I should be using other characters like Mr. Data or Castiel. And you might say, Castiel? Autistic? Yes. Castiel is an aloof and curious angel who saves Dean from perdition. He acts in an awkward way most of the time. However, he is getting “better” under neurotypical standards (the Winchesters, for example, are pretty neurotypical) when interacting with humans. As he learns new patterns, he also learns how to navigate Earth. However, his cuteness and funny quotes can be explained under the Autism spectrum.

Characters that we can find in fandom can help us understand better people around us that might be special or who might have a different neurological wiring. Even if writers didn’t intend to make of Castiel an autistic character, he does show up a bunch of traits. Remember that autism is a vast spectrum where we can find Aspergers and high functioning autistic people (docs have changed the names recently, but I keep on the ones I know more). Not all aspies nor autistic people are the same, but common traits make them special.

1. His face doesn’t convey emotions.

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For the most part, Castiel’s face is emotionless. Not in a bad way, but in a sweet one. He seems aloof most of the time unable to show up any emotion on his face. This drives Dean crazy, every time he tries to get some feedback from Castiel. Nods and facial gestures are hard for this angel, and when he does them, they feel awkward most of the time. As time passes, he learns little by little about some gestures, but he has an emotionless face that no other angel has. No wonder the Winchesters have adopted him, since he seems lost, despite having great powers. My Vulcan has problems in showing up emotions on his face as well. He, like Castiel, looks like a blank canvas with big eyes looking back at you most of the time. Pretty much like the gif up there. He is dang cute, but it can get on your nerves when he is on Castiel mode on.

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#AKF Always Keep Fighting

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I finally got my #AKF Always Keep Fighting tee! It has taken a while to arrive to destination, but I finally have it here with me. And with it comes the opportunity to get more personal on this blog. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you’ve already noticed that I don’t really get that emotional nor I tend to share many deep personal experiences. Yes, I do fangirl a lot. Yes, I do give tips on some topics related to living with my Vulcan… But I’ve never go beyond to a certain point here. But, today I want to change that and open a little bit more my personal door to you.

I love how Jared Padalecki has shared with the world his journey of always keep fighting. His message is strong and sound while giving example for others to follow. The brain is an incredible machine that sometimes works in a different way. We expect it to be perfect, and sometimes it fails. Other times it is just wired in a different way. I want to talk a little bit about that wiring.

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Understanding HFA time

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We take for granted our understanding of time. However, different cultures can have a different understanding of what time is and how it works. Not only different cultures might understand time in different ways, autistic people can do that too. Understanding HFA time can be challenging, since HFA time could mean “no time at all.” My Vulcan understands time as “no time,” so let me explain it using the world of comics.

In the world of comics time and space are the same. Time can vary as much as seconds or a million years in just what might look similar sequences. You can have dinosaurs in one panel, and then a car in the next one. The reader can interpret a quick pace of time in this sequence. You could also have a dinosaur looking left in one panel, and then the same dinosaur smiling in the next. In this case, we could assume that some seconds have elapsed. In comics, time is vague, and so it is for autistic people.

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The hugging machine

depepi, autism, me and my vulcan

Do you like hugs? I am an incredible hug addict (but only from people that I know and I like). However, my Vulcan does not feel the same about hugs. Though he might want some from time to time, his hugs are not the same as my hugs. Have you seen the movie of Temple Grandin? (I recommend this movie a lot, since it is useful.) In the movie, we can see Temple make her own “hugging machine.” She was unable to stand human hugs, so she built her own hugging machine. This machine did not really mimmic the human hug, instead it “squeezed” her tight, enabling her to release all the anxiety she had stored during time. Now that she is older, she seems to like human hugs more than the machine ones. Whatever the case, “hugs” help both of us to feel better, though in different ways.

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My Vulcan gets nervous with interaction with people. His anxiety can be challenging for him, creating discomfort and restlessness. In times of a high amount of anxiety, a “hug” a good way to help him release tension. Unlike the hugs I like to get, his hugs are “squeezing hugs.” In fact, what he needs is to be squeezed for a while. In that sense I become a “squeezing/hug machine” for him. While I like my hugs tender, he likes strong squeezing hugs. It seems that this type of hugs help him release the tension he has been storing, maybe during weeks, quite quickly. Huggins though it’s not perfect. He might feel relieved, but the whole anxiety issue does not disappear as if by magic. But they do help a lot.

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Vulcan emotions vs Human emotions

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(click on the image to enlarge)

Humans have “super powers”. Believe it or not, we have “super powers”. Some of these “super powers” are to understand other people’s faces, and being empathic. But what happens if you are living with your personal kryptonite? You just become an annoying parrot till you realize it! Vulcans’ facial expressions are limited (please take a look at Kirk and Mr. Spock above to get an idea), or wrong. Some Vulcans, in order to fit in our neurotypical world, copy human facial expressions. Sometimes they force the “emotion” so much, that it becomes a sarcastic copy. And some times they use the copied facial expression in the wrong way. And this leaves the human without its “super powers”. That is: puzzled and perplexed.

My Vulcan is like Mr.Spock when he gets presents. You never know when he liked the thing or not. He just acknowledges the present. But there is no change on his face whatsoever. For years I’ve been a half-breed mixture of “parrot” and metallic “cylon“, both repeating ad nauseam “did you like it honey?”, and scanning his movements till I was collapsed on the floor exhausted. For years I’ve been interpreting this as me not giving to my Vulcan the correct present. Which, now I know, was plainly wrong. He was getting geekier and geekier presents, which were acknowledged. It turns out, he loved all of them. He just simply doesn’t know how to show to you how happy he is with all the geekery you are giving him as presents. (I am lucky: he is as geeky as I am, therefore, I don’t really need to think too much. I just go online and search for the geekiest goodies around).

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Be my Valentine

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Happy Valentine’s Day! (I know! It is like… two days earlier.) Valentine’s Day it’s a great time for love. Couples like to be together, have a romantic time together, and if in Japan, eat lots of chocolates! (I kinda love that. The only problem is that girls give the chocolates to boys, and while I was there, I used to just… eat them? LOL ) Whatever the case, girls are deep in love with Valentine’s Day. Romance, love, and all the romantic mojo you can think of.

But what if you could not understand the romantic part of it?

What if you felt lost during those dates?

What if your HFA made of Valentine’s day one of the most stressful days in the whole year?

As you know, my sweetheart has HFA, and celebrations mean to socialize. And to socialize just means to get more anxious, nervous and crack down into a crisis. Even if you conceal it, you are obviously living in a neurotypical world in which people just do weird stuff. Now imagine that your girlfriend (that would be me) is one of the most romantic girls on the world. You would feel lost forever on what to do, how to react, and stressed not to blow up things. You love her, and want to make her happy, even if you don’t understand why she needs that sort of things. (So illogical!)

One of the worst things ever are “presents”. Neurotypical guys have a hard time with that. Now imagine if you have HFA!! I can recall the first present he gave me when we started dating: a pen drive! It was neon pink. Yup, you read it correctly: a PEN DRIVE. (You can picture my face as an incredulous one while listening to him talking about how wonderful the neon pink pen drive was…) It is a neon pink, Buffalo pen drive, which I still use. It has proven to be very practical, but not exactly the type of present you expect to get while starting to date.

At that time we didn’t know he had HFA, and intuitively I decided to make him a list of stuff that I would like to get. And this has proven to be one of the best things ever! This is my tip for you! Make lists! (Even if you are dating a neurotypical dude, lists are going to make your life easier, and you’ll provably be happier because you’ll get one of the things in the list!)

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