See Me After Class

It seems that the summer vacation has, for me and many others, ended and we are back to another semester of English classes. For those of you who don’t know, I am actually now enrolled on a course to imoreover my English. As a dyslexic writer, blogger and somewhat of a poet, I thought that it might be helpful to learn to actually correct my own writing or at least make my English better so that it’s less work and less stressful for my proofreader, Mrs Bob, who is a fully trained proofreader (and a grammar freak though she doesn’t check this blog)… but shhh don’t tell her I said that, eh.

Before we broke up for the summer holidays I had been doing an English course once a week and had managed to get to grips with a class full of strangers (OK 6 but it’s still a big deal) and managing to cope. Imagine my horror when not only was I a week late back due to an organisational issue (I’m not very organised is the issue) but that the class was now 11 people and only 2 of them I knew from before. This was going to be a very long class and I felt very uncomfortable to say the least.

My anxiety levels were rising fast. I had people sat next to me I didn’t know or had said could invade my personal space. One teenage lad with an emo look was sat across the class and every time I looked up, he was staring at me. I have to wonder if this was real or perceived by my Asperger’s making me almost like a paranoid android. Then I happened to make a comment to the lecturer about disability markers on a form I was filling in, as it had ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as one and Aspergers Syndrome as another. All I said was I found this strange, as Aspergers is technically on the ASD.  At which point the 17 year old next to me said “Asperger’s is nothing to do with ASD”.  I went to disagree and she continued “I should know my friends brother thinks he has it!”

Well that’s OK then, you’re perfectly placed to make that statement.  Maybe the English Psychiatrist’s Society would like to take note of this ground-breaking research!! For those who are struggling, I’m being sarcastic. I’ve only lived with this gift/curse (you choose) for nearly 40 years and I like to think that I have some awareness of what it is. This class is going to be very hard work  – that is, if I manage to stick it.

Stay safe x

So Little Time.

Tuesday was a very busy day as far as days off go. I had lots of places to be and not much time to do it, First off a 10 mile trip to see my favourite tattoo artist (yes it’s an art). They are very talented and really friendly. My usual artist has a love of Kevin Smith, which means a great chat and some amazing ink. The design is something that I started last year as a tribute to my wife. It’s a nerdy type design that means something to Mrs Bob and myself and no one else. Then I had to wait for Mrs Bob to finish with a client before moving onto the next thing on the list. Next stop back home so I could walk down to my local comic book store. They are having a special event on soon and I wanted to buy a ticket before they sell out, also I love supporting my local comic book store for a number of reasons. They are a small local store and I prefer to fund mom and pop business over large corporations. The staff are very friendly, passionate and knowledgeable about what they sell. Alongside the fact they know I’m an Aspie and make allowances for it.

Back home to try and do some promotional type work on the old (not so) social media for the book and my blog. This is something I try to deal with myself rather than outsourcing it. This is because I’m passionate about what I do and my ideas, and to be honest I don’t trust anyone with my baby. Then I had to get in a new graphic designer, I’m looking for a logo for my writing side of things so as to be taken seriously a Poet/Blogger. What with the upcoming release of my book, “Behind the Mask” and then the work will begin on my second, as yet untitled book, which will be based on my blogging. I am finding this path to be a very exciting and interesting journey into what life with Aspergers can be like in our modern and hectic world.

Stay Safe X

Working Time.

Monday was a very strange and unusually quiet day at work. The area is quietening down, as the schools have gone back. We now have a few weeks of the older generation and those without kids enjoying the less hectic holiday season.

Quietness is a double-edged sword for me. I don’t have to wear myself out with eye contact and the small talk that I find so difficult and tiring. On the other hand I find that when I’m by myself and bored, my brain starts to work overtime with facts and figures. It was at this point that I remembered a paper I had been working on back in 2009-2010 that covered this situation.

Basically it looked at the way a neurotypical brain could perceive time in certain situations. I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase that time flies when you’re having fun? Well basically I had started to look at this, and the fact that when you’re at work, time can drag. Let’s take 3 hrs for example – it’s a standard unit of time. Broken down to its base rate, it’s 10800 seconds.  It’s a constant number that can’t change. So why does our brain alter time or our perception of it?

Our perception of time changes with age, but it also depends on our emotional state. Research is steadily improving understanding of the brain it’s circuits that control this sense. Time is an integral part of our daily life, regardless of whether we are in a hurry, relaxed, gripped by an emotion or bored stiff. We may be walking, driving, listening to music, hearing the phone ring, taking part in a conversation or doing a sport, but time is always there, omnipresent and immaterial. Whereas all our senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste – bring into play specialised sensory receptors, there is no specific receptor for time. Yet it is present in us, our brain being a real timing machine, giving us the ability to alter time (or our perception of time). This basically was the idea behind the paper titled Working Time Directive, which was never finished but has come one step closer to fruition.

Stay Safe X

Thanks Mrs Bob

It’s been a couple of days since we last spoke, so what’s been happening in my life? Friday was a particularly quiet day. I had a day off so I could try and concentrate on my book as it’s almost at the point of completion and I really want to get it finished now. It has been proofread by the wonderful Mrs Bob and all the artwork is in place. It’s just a case of finishing my foreword and thank-yous and sending everything off.

This book will, without a shadow of a doubt, be the hardest and most personal thing that I have ever done. Putting everything out there for all to see, my innermost thoughts and feelings laid bare on paper for strangers to judge. Yes, as an Aspie I get the irony of saying that on a blog. Most of the scribbles (poems) written in this book were written before I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. This was a darker time in my life when I had serious depression, so some of the book is hard going. I used my scribbles to try and get across how I was feeling emotionally and as a form of therapy.  It really helped.

I’m really nervous and excited about putting my work out into the public domain, as once it’s out there, there is no going back – no way of unseeing my words.  But I guess when you are as open as I am and will continue to be in my ramblings here, then what’s the worst that could happen? The book has inspired this blog and this blog a second book. Almost like a perpetual motion engine. “A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy source. This kind of machine is impossible, as it would violate the first and second law of thermodynamics.”

Laws of Thermodynamics explained

So it’s exciting to see where this whole journey will take me, but I can say no matter what happens I’m glad I took the chance. Also I’m so glad to have Mrs Bob – she is responsible for getting the idea of a book to where I am now. Also, for being on hand to proofread my book and polish it up.  Without her, it would be like this blog! (Mrs Bob doesn’t proof my blog hence all the errors) The ramblings of a dyslexic Aspie – so you guys owe her one too!

Stay Safe X

Platform 9 3/4s

Yesterday marked the end of my daughter’s stay with us. As I stood on the railway platform with my eldest, waiting for her train to arrive and take her back home, I was overcome with those strange things you NT’s (Neurotypical’s) call emotions.

It’s been a very strange time as I haven’t had her to stay for quite a while, for a number of reasons, really,  I’m not very easy to relate to as a parent as I don’t honestly know how to be one. My wife (Mrs Bob) is better at being a parent, she, as an NT, has a brain better equipped to deal with all the problems that can and inevitably do arise with children, even grown up ones (especially grown up ones…)

I was very happy to have my daughter down to visit and stay with us. We have had some fun times and some not-so-fun times, and I realise that being a parent is hard for NTs and Aspies alike. Which I find very strange, as I thought that certain parts would be easier for me – like discipline, as I don’t have the emotional bit blurring the lines and can use pure logic. Alas, it’s not that way at all.  I find having to tell my kids off for serious things very difficult face to face. It’s mainly because I know you’re  supposed to shout and look cross, but I’m not sure how much shouting or how to make my face look cross. I find it much easier to actually discipline or tell people off by electronic form, ie text or email.  But that’s not great either, from a social angle.

I also find that I love my kids dearly, despite how much they wind me up and may hurt me.  It’s weird, because I know that I love them because all the signs are there. Yet when it comes to processing it, my brain gives me the message Error 404 emotion not found. I know I have often said to Mrs Bob that I feel Aspergers is a blessing, as I’m gifted with excellent memory, intelligence, etc, and none of this emotional nonsense to hold me back. But there are days when I would gladly trade it in for 24hrs to be able to feel and appreciate my children in the way that a normal person does. This truly is one of the hardest part of being a parent when you’re not a real boy….

Stay Safe X

 

Gone Sailing.

 

 

Salcombe, Devon, England
Salcombe

Yesterday we decided as a group that we would make the short (35 mile) trip down to one of mine and my wife’s favourite places (out of season) – Salcombe. For those of you who don’t know it, Salcombe is a popular resort town in the South Hams district of Devon. The town is close to the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary, built mostly on the steep west side of the estuary. It’s also well known that 85% of the houses there are second homes. In season it is full of tourists and the like, and is not a pleasant place to be.

We decided to take my daughter on the very popular (we do it once a year) Kirby estuary cruise, as it’s a nice little hour-long trip on the river. The downside to this amazing plan was that she has never been on a boat in her life before, but is scared of boats.  We said that this would be fine as its nice and calm and doesn’t go out to sea. I have the same fear, but I’m ok on this boat as it’s not a trip out to sea. We did the trip and she was ok – there was the inevitable “I’m never doing it again” but as we told her, at least she has tried it.

We grabbed some chips (it’s the law on holiday) and sat by the water and had a laugh while I told some bad Dad jokes. These like normal jokes, but when told by a parent they become boring and/or unfunny. She criticised my love of Werther’s Originals (which she calls old man candy) and reminded me that I’m old. I proceeded to remind her that she wasn’t young anymore either. You know the general kind of father/daughter conversation, or at least that what I think. I’ve never really been able to bond with my children as well as other parents, I guess. I try my hardest and we kind of rock along nicely.

I decided that later that night we would go to my local pub, as I was going to meet my bestie from work but she was really shattered. She has been pushing herself way too hard work-wise and barely gets any time off at all. So my daughter and I took a trip to my local for a beer on our own and we had a few drinks in the warm evening air and then out of nowhere it happened…..

My daughter started to talk to me about her life. Work, Uni, even boyfriends, etc. This was a mammoth event for me, as she has always been very quiet about her life and never says anything about who she is seeing or dating. I was so proud to be able to just listen and finally be let in. We had a really long talk and then walked (and talked) home. It was also nice to see her without having her blessed phone glued to her hand. I feel we have achieved something with this visit.  I’m really happy

Stay Safe X

 

Relaxing Sea Air.

Well yesterday was a really nice September day. Or at least after the autumnal weather on Saturday, I was really expecting to receive a message from my archery club’s VP to say that there would be no weekly club meeting this week, due to the rain and wind the day/night before. This was not the case, so I got up early (yes on a Sunday), got ready and then got my daughter up as she wanted to meet my fellow archers and to see what we do.

It was really nice to spend time with her, as we had a little issue last year where she “forgot” both Father’s Day and my birthday. This created a problem and a lack of communication between us. We are both adults  and we have managed to work through it. We are very alike. We have similar tastes in music, TV & humour so we spent the morning taking the mickey out of each other and a had nice drive back home.

We had some lunch and then as she lives in a landlocked county, I decided that we would go and visit the seaside.  It’s a short (20 mile) trip from my home village. We had fun, and took some silly photos as she doesn’t like pictures unless she’s posed for them. We had a really good time and just relaxed, which was desperately needed.

When we returned home, everyone went and did their own thing and by early evening the relaxing took full effect and we were falling asleep. My daughter said that sea air does that to you. I resisted the urge to explain that it is because sea air is full of negative hydrogen ions – charged particles abundant in sea spray and concentrated in fresh air, which improve our ability to absorb oxygen. These negative ions can also balance levels of seratonin and dopamine, making you less prone to anxiety and more relaxed.

Education and Understanding

I’m often asked about my condition and how it affects me, by mostly well-intentioned NT’s, so I thought I would put a little thing together.  A little post with videos and information to try and answer any questions. If you have any other questions or just want to get in touch, please email me at: AspergersPoet@gmail.com

What is Asperger syndrome?

Like other autism profiles, Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

People with Asperger syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you have Asperger syndrome, you have it for life – it is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel that Asperger syndrome is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some people with Asperger syndrome also have mental health conditions or other conditions, meaning people need different levels and types of support.

People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.

What is Autism by the National Autism Society

Sensory differences

Many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information. Any of the senses may be over- or under-sensitive, or both, at different times. These sensory differences can affect behaviour, and can have a profound effect on a person’s life.

Too much information

Sometimes an autistic person may behave in a way that you wouldn’t immediately link to sensory sensitivities. A person who struggles to deal with everyday sensory information can experience sensory overload, or information overload. Too much information can cause stress, anxiety, and possibly physical pain. This can result in withdrawal, challenging behaviour, or meltdown.

Sensory overload simulation

How does autism affect children, adults and their families?

Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition. Without the right support, it can have a profound – sometimes devastating – effect on individuals and families.
Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that’s more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.8 million people every day.
Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone has it.
While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.
63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them.
17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.
Seventy per cent of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. Seventy per cent of autistic adults also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated.
At least one in three autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
Only 15% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment.
Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it.

Figures from The National Autism Society, videos from you tube. I hope this was of help to people.  If I can educate or explain this struggle to just one person then I can feel I have achieved something.

Stay Safe X

 

Winter is Coming…

image

We had a mammoth (4.5hrs instead of 3) trip back home yesterday evening and all the stress of a long drive and the monotony of motorway driving. This is something I hate for a number of reasons. One – I dislike motorway driving; it’s monotonous and tedious.. Two – I find that the noise from my car on the motorway and the other traffic noises and various other noise can be a little stressful.  This is why on long journeys I tend to have the radio on quietly or an audiobook playing.

So last night we arrived back home later than expected and we were all tired except my daughter, who works a night shift and is used to it (plus I’m sure she was sleeping in the back of the car!). So I outsourced the evening meal (Chinese take out) as I haven’t had a Chinese in a month or so and cracked open a bottle of vanilla vodka. I don’t normally drink at all.  In fact, anyone that knows me will tell you I drink once in a blue moon. This mainly stems from my  biological father, who was a very heavy drinker.  The less said about him, the better.  I call my stepfather “Dad”.

So now I have my comfy clothes on and I’m very well fed and relaxed and having a great conversation with my bestie.  I don’t trust many people – I have possibly 3 friends down here: my club’s VP, who I can have a laugh with as he is only 23 and knows I’m an Aspie but I don’t confide in him. Then there’s a guy who I know who has a family member with certain ASD traits.  He is a lot older than me but knows my secret and helps me out a lot. Then there’s my bestie, who knows a lot about me – more than I have let anyone know before.

Then I saw that Bridget Jones’ Diary was on the TV, so it was time to settle down with Mrs Bob and some great television. I don’t know why, but Renee Zelwegger as Bridget Jones is very, very attractive. This was a perfect way to end a very  busy day. Today I have spent time with my daughter –  shopping and relaxing. Then as the weather has been very wet and cold we have sat and watched Netflix, Amazon etc and just had a nice day at home. The day almost has a nice autumnal feeling to it as if winter is coming….

Stay Safe X

Mini Getaway

Well after the events of the last crazy few days in my life, I’ve realised that it’s at  times like this that I wish I was an NT and not an Aspie.

I had some leave planned for the end of this week to travel across country for a couple of days, so as I write this I’m nicely tucked up in a huge comfy bed in a hotel where the staff and owners are friendly and the food is great. I mean come on, a mixed grill!  Who (apart from vegetarians) doesn’t like one? It’s an assortment of meat on a plate instead of just one. Add in that in our room, the bath is huge and I know this because I could fit in a big hot bath after a long day.

I spent yesterday with my Mum & Dad, whom I haven’t seen for a long time (since Christmas) and my dad has been very ill recently.  We nearly lost him earlier in the year, which really put things into perspective for me. I don’t tell my parents I love them, but I’m sure they know I do. I did text my dad to explain how I feel before he had life-threatening/saving surgery. I can’t tell people these things, I find it really hard. But this really taught me a lesson, which is please, please tell that family member how you feel. I thought I had  left it too late and it eat away at me. I’m going to spend today with my younger daughter – maybe gossip, shopping and a meal, while Mrs Bob is working.  Then we have the long trip back home with my other daughter.

It also made me appreciate my friends more.. I really owe my best mate a drink when I see her next. She has been a true friend and given me help and advice – even if I’ve not taken it, it’s still appreciated. As I’ve not seen her for nearly a week, I have noticed how much I miss her.

It should be a nice day with my grown up daughter and a catch up with old friends in my home town, so happy days.

Stay Safe X