Feb 28, 2009
Feb 25, 2009
Comfort of Each Other
Love Bloomed After Socializing Was Learned
By THEA TRACHTENBERG and LINDSAY GOLDWERT
Feb. 25, 2009 —
David Hamrick, 29, and Lindsey Nebeker, 27, look like a typical couple in love, but what's not apparent is how hard they've worked to be together.
Hamrick and Nebeker live together in a Jackson, Miss., apartment, yet they have separate bedrooms, eat meals apart and spend most of their time focused on their own interests.
This unusual setup is how Hamrick and Nebeker, who are both autistic, make their relationship work.
About 1.5 million people in the United States have autism, with varying degrees of severity. Many people with autism struggle with the most basic social interactions, so finding love may seem like an impossibility.
Hamrick and Nebeker are high-functioning but, since childhood, both have found it difficult to make friends and even harder to keep them. "All of her socialization had to be learned, usually by hard experience," said Nebeker's father, Gordon Nebeker.
Autistic people can also be hypersensitive to touch and sound. Hamrick can't stand when the room is too warm and cringes at certain sounds; Nebeker can't take florescent lights; and both are profoundly uncomfortable with small talk, said Lynn Harris, who profiled the couple for Glamour magazine.
Learning to Interact
Despite their difficulties, they both kept trying to reach out and connect with others. Nebeker learned to make friends by reading Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Hamrick had tried to untangle the rules of dating by reading self-help books.
"No one teaches you to flirt," said Diane Twactman-Cullen, editor in chief of Autism Spectrum Quarterly. "Individuals with autism would really be at a loss. So there might be some missed signals."
When Hamrick and Nebeker met in 2005 at an autism conference, Hamrick was smitten.
"I pretty much liked everything about her," he said. "She was very sweet, easy to talk to, and a good listener." But Nebeker was unsure.
"In my early 20s, I had decided I was no longer going to seek a relationship," she said. "I was mainly going to focus on my career and my friends that I had been able to make and keep."
They became friends. Then one day when they were at a café, Hamrick knew he was making progress when he put his hand on hers.
"My heart was racing," Hamrick said. "I was fearful it might not work out the way I had anticipated, but the fact that she didn't pull back and she was able to hold my hand there for at least five minutes, I was very touched by that."
Living Together With Separate Needs
After two years of dating, they took the huge step of moving in together, despite their unique and separate needs. Nebeker admits that it seems highly unusual for a typical couple to agree to separate bedrooms. "We both understood the importance of an individual with autism needing their own space," she said.
When they are in their apartment, they are rarely together. Hamrick, a meteorologist, is often in his room on the computer or absorbed in the Weather Channel while Nebeker, a musician, can get lost for hours playing the piano and working on her music.
A romantic dinner for two presents major challenges. "There are a number of sounds that are unpleasant to me," Hamrick explained. "Such as chewing sounds and crunching sounds."
And Nebeker has many complicated eating rituals. Her napkin has to be placed just so and her meals prepared in just the right way.
"Sometimes Dave will spontaneously ask, 'Hey, you want to go out for dinner tonight?' And I break into sobs and I say, 'I am so sorry, I just can't. I just can't,'" Nebeker said.
The couple's parents have seen their children struggle with their disorder and are in awe of the way the two care for each other and express their love and devotion. "Being high functioning is almost more difficult than being low functioning," said Gordon Nebeker. "You are so close to there, and yet not quite -- and that is heartbreaking."
But for all the compromises, the couple's love story is actually a pretty traditional one, one of deep understanding and acceptance.
"When I have had a bad day at work or just a bad day for some other reason -- and I come home, I don't even have to say anything, he senses it. Dave will come up to me and start cuddling up to me and that's really all I need," Nebeker said. "I know that I am with a partner who is not going to judge me for certain eccentricities I have."
Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures
Feb 23, 2009
“Momma, look, don’t you see?
Sitting in the brown wood seat,
Horses and goats, came out first,
Elephants and clowns danced in line,
Laughter rang across the crowd,
Limping down the metal ramp,
Whips lashed out on his back.
“What do you mean, look at over there.
Grabbing the mic, people grew still.
Feb 20, 2009
Oh my dog...our dog...Izzy. We believe she is pregnant. Not all that happy about it! Honestly we were planning to get her fixed. Set the appointment and everything it would have been this coming week. But well in Jan she came in heat and we never even knew it until she broke her chain and returned with two male dogs. One big yellow lab and the other a red chow/lab mix. UGH! The next day we had a lot of visitors...a daschund, jack russel, a red nose pit, yellow lab and a golden retriever. Thankfully we realized the uh oh weeks were upon us and kept her inside most of the time. But there were a few times she escaped when the kids were coming in...
SO unless she is really good at having a false pregnancy we will have puppies in March sometime. What we know is Izzy is a border collie/australian shepherd/lab mix so no matter what the puppies will be big and beautiful. She is a beautiful pup herself. She will be a year old on Kristofer's birthday. Yes we know for sure her birthdate she was our neighbors puppy.
She is such a great dog. Hyper but as gentle as she can be. She thinks she is a little lap dog. She likes to aly on my lap with her head nuzzled in my shoulder like she did when she was a baby. She loves to play fetch with mr squeekers and she knows what I am talking about when I say, "wheres squeekers" she will run as fast as possible to find it.
Just an update on Kristofer. He has been attending a group therapy session learning living tasks and social skills twice a week. He loved it so much he cut his hair the other day. Told me he wanted to look like his new pals at therapy. So we buzzed it down. Then today Eli wanted his to be like Kristofer's so out came the buzzers again.
We are looking forward to spring break in two weeks. We were hoping to head home to Florida but those plans got nixed. Now we (the kids and I) are going to go visit our friends in KY. Heading over to see Elaine, Marty and Angie. I wish there was time to see all of our friends in KY but we are unable to. Sean does not get to take any vacation time until May.
Right now I am reading a great book, "Parenting Your Asperger Child" So far its great! I won it from Angela over at Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy . Thank you Angela!!!
It has a lot of helpful typs on how to teach your child practical skills. It's great! This book and the therapy Kris is going through has been such a blessing to us!
Feb 18, 2009
Actually my knees where not too happly with me but I am so glad nothing happened.
Feb 12, 2009
Feb 11, 2009
Feb 6, 2009
The other animal members that have come to live with us are Pebbles my 4 mo old cockatiel and Jasper a 12 week old ferret. Both have been a blessing to have. The kids love both. Personally I am so happy to once again have a bird. I grew up with parakeets and cockatiels. In fact my first pet was a parakeet named Petey. We thought he was a boy and then my grandmom "Mom" gave me another parakeet named Petey Boy and well my Petey was no longer considered a boy.
Sara loves Pebbles! Pebbles was playing hide and seek in Sara's hair. It was really cute, she would hide and Sara would say, "where are you?" Pebbles would chirp and peek out. It was so funny.
Besides te change of new pets in the house, being snowed in or sleeted in 4.5 inches of sleet and 4.5 inches of snow on top of that, we have been busy with the kids having snow days and I am still working on the Children's church room. Almost completed...well maybe not, still have a lot to do and its been hard to do with the kids being out of school plus having sick kiddos. Sara has battled strep and a UTI the last couple of weeks. I am praying that Monday all 4 will be able to go back to school. I need a break and I need to finish the stuff at the church. Which is where I am heading in a few minutes. I am hoping to get more pictures tonight and get things really moving and done. As soon as I have it completed I will post before and after pictures. Hope everyone has a great weekend.