This comic actually touches upon two things (though, I hadn’t intended to do that). My main point is the “mask” we put up, and then I realized that it also lightly touches upon taking things/expressions literally.
On the shorter note, people on the spectrum have difficulties distinguishing between normal tones and sarcasm. There’s also trouble understanding expressions (like “two birds with one stone”), allegories, and metaphors. When I first heard the expression “apple of my eye”, I pictured someone’s eyes reflecting apples, for example.
When I had to read stories in high school on allegory and symbolism, it all went over my head. “Watership Down” is one of my favorite novels, but I still don’t pick up on the symbolism which is apparently in the novel. I’ll explain all that in further detail when I do a comic which actually delves more into the subject. The main subject I was trying to explain with this comic is autism vs society.
Q: Could you go into detail on other types of relationships (friends, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.) that you have had? Do you have a specific example of a misstep? Or situation that you were able to handle because of something you had been taught?
A: Years ago, I was asked to help lead songs for a college-age Bible study (I was 30). Eventually, some of the women in the group went to the leader and told him they were uncomfortable with the way I looked at them. I was asked not to come back. I was in complete shock, and kept trying to figure out where I went wrong.
Artist, Writer, Director and college student Dwayne Dixon possess the talents of many diagnosed with Aspergers. Though Dwayne does not have Aspergers, he is a strong example of utilizing what talents/intense interests you do have into a passionate living! He and his production team from New York are always on the scout for voice talent (see contact info at end of blog) and recently enlisted Sam (my son with Asperger Syndrome) for a part in a working program titled: Kuro ni Fedo. We caught up with Dwayne during his hectic schedule to ask some questions about VSW Productions, his aspirations and his advice for those on the spectrum.
Brief Background: VSW (Vendetta Spying Wolf) Productions is a non-profit production crew made up of college students who have an interest in voice acting, animation, etc. The latest project is a series titled Kuro ni Fedo. We caught up with VSW owner Dwayne Dixon to learn more of the behind- the- scenes makings in his fan fiction animation.
Aspergers101: Hello Dwayne and welcome to the Aspergers101 Community! Tell us about your talents and how you pooled them with some of your New York college friends to form VSW Productions.
Dwayne Dixon: Hello to you too and thank you for having me. To begin answering that I must first rewind the clock a little. When I was younger I would always draw characters from certain cartoons that I enjoyed. I’ve been given compliments in response to my art. It made me feel good so I kept practicing. Honing my skills I’ve meet up with my co-writer/best friend from High School and due to having common interest we decided to write the story to Kuro ni Fedo; which stands for Fade to Black in Japanese.
Aspergers101: What kind of projects are VSW Productions currently working on?
Dwayne Dixon: Still early to the whole Production aspect we don’t have a lot of projects out yet but we’re mostly working on Kuro ni Fedo since the illustrations and the voice work takes the longest of our time. But I also have another project in mind that could possibly be a live action short film that will even involve those that aren’t close by. Such as those who voice outside of the state of New York. VSW Productions doesn’t try to leave anyone out.
Aspergers101: Who writes the copy, produces the music, illustrates and edits for Kuro ni Fedo?
He was born in Austria in 1906. As a child, making friends didn’t come easily and he was considered lonely and remote, but he was talented in language. In particular he had an interest in poetry.
He was known to quote his favorite Austrian poet to classmates—not that they were interested. He also quoted himself, and sometimes referred to himself in the third-person. He displayed characteristics of the condition that would one day bear his name.
The following is a group of fantastic reader responses and questions related to Ken Kellam’s recent blog titled, “If There Were a Cure for Asperger’s”.
At Aspergers101 we strive to encourage an open conversation among the community. Here is a look at what people have been saying about Ken’s blog, along with a response to one of our readers from Ken.
“I love what you have so perfectly expressed! Our biggest challenges are living among members of a society made up of people who are afraid of differences that they don’t understand, making us another marginalized culture. It’s time to educate!”
“If Aspergers was ‘cured’ I would be deprived of some of the most wonderful, creative and passionate patients and friends that I am blessed to be connected with. My life would be duller, less fulfilled and less inspired by the courage and resilience individuals on the autism spectrum have shown me.
Want to be wowed?
Want to be inspired?
Want to love what you do?
Work to reduce social discrimination against individuals on the spectrum and consider their gifts. Want to explode the myth that individuals on the spectrum cannot empathize, love, be compassionate, parent well, love well, contribute to the quality of our lives? Meet someone on the spectrum! It’s called a spectrum because we’re all on it, no right or wrong, just differences to be celebrated, peace (and who really cares about that).”
“I like your blog and agree with all you say – but how long has it taken you to arrive at your positive feelings about having Asperger’s? I’ve worked with many kids who suffer badly at school, particularly as they become adolescents, and find it really hard to cope with some of the social challenges of trying to be one of a group and relate to their peers. I will try to use what you say to encourage them but I don’t think we should minimize the problems either. The neuro-typical world can be an uncomfortable place.”
Q: “Many people see children with Asperger’s and they don’t understand that their needs are lifelong. They don’t see that even if you watch your child succeed at a young age, there will be new territory to navigate as they get older and new situations arise.” This is so true, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers in the 90’s when there was not a lot of “buzz” about it. He did okay, but now as an adult he seems to be having difficulty especially with anxiety and confidence. I am worried for him, and keep directing him towards counseling, but he hasn’t yet. Any suggestions?
I can completely relate to this. Near the end of my high school days, I garnered several accomplishments and awards, but college was a completely different ballgame, especially since I was four hours away from home. Once I got out of college and moved back home, the working world was a completely different situation as well, and I struggled mightily at times. Each new job, new relationship, and new situation is a challenge, but an opportunity as well. Fortunately, my family could not have been more supportive of me over the years.
For much of my life, I have had a hard time understanding not only the non-verbal communication of others, but how my own non-verbal communication affected others. Sometimes, if I was irritated at someone, I would simply keep my mouth shut, the rationale being “They can’t hold me accountable for something I didn’t say.”
What I failed to realize was that sometimes silence speaks louder than anything you could say, or that you could say one thing, but your facial expressions, actions, and certainly body language tell the real story.
Autism is real and like many others with the diagnosis, my son, Alex Hale, is succeeding in life on the Spectrum. His two songs “Into the Light” and “Walk a Mile” share his thoughts and emotions on the journey of an Autistic Individual, and assert that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a long journey since his official diagnosis at the age of 6 years old.
There were signs of awkward behaviors, however his pediatrician initially suggested that we didn’t look for “trouble”. Once diagnosed we were in a state of awe rather than shock. We had assumed he would be diagnosed with ADHD or something of that nature. Immediately Alex’s dad and I started asking questions, reading up on Autism/Aspergers and looking for answers and methods to keep Alex mainstream.
Alex is high – functioning and as he says in his advocacy speaking engagements, you may not guess by looking at him, or meeting him initially, but spend a little bit of time with him and you will see that his social skills are a little different.
I’m pretty sure those of you who have discovered that your child has high-functioning autism went into some kind of state of shock when you found out about the diagnosis. My own mother felt the room spinning when they suggested the possibility of me having high-functioning autism.
But, at the same time, she also experienced a feeling of relief for finally having a diagnosis that explained the foreign behaviors.
It’s okay to feel shocked when the diagnosis comes in. It can be a lot to take in, but I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about. In fact, I’d consider the diagnosis to be a stepping stone towards a journey.
Now, some of you may be worried after getting the diagnosis that your child may not be able to drive, or to find a romantic love interest. Take a look at me; I have Aspergers and I’m driving to and from college every Monday through Thursday with no hitch, and I’ve even had some girlfriends in recent times.
Of course, there are going to be rough patches throughout the journey, but that’s what makes the journey all the more interesting. Because, let’s face it, normal is boring.
In conclusion, there’s no need to treat the diagnosis as a lethal disease, and I see no reason for the child not to know about their high-functioning autism. Take the time to explain what it is, and make sure they understand that high-functioning autism is far from anything even close to a disease.
By Samuel Allen