About Bob Christian

Aspie, Poet, Dyslexic, Father & Husband and author of Behind the Mask & Scribblology

Sins of the Father

I’ve had a very unusual few days, and I’m really not sure how to deal with the emotions I’ve been battered with because of it.

As you know, I’m a parent and I try to be a good one, despite now being a 4-hr drive from them. I’m quite sure that, depending upon who you speak to, you’ll get differing opinions on that subject. I can say hand on heart I’ve done my very best for them both.

I have had some real difficulties with one of my adult (20 years old) children in the last 2 years. She has chosen to ignore all communication from Mrs Bob and almost everything from me for the last two years because we got her out of a potentially very dangerous situation that she was unaware of. She saw it that we had acted unnecessarily and still refuses to believe what we, and the Police, told her about someone she was staying with. This has been incredibly hard for both me and Mrs Bob to handle because she was especially close to Mrs Bob before this.

Then, in February 2019, she let me know, in one of her very few communications, that she was pregnant.

I won’t expand too much on that, but in the past year or so, as well as a resounding silence from her, we began to hear back from other people that she had been saying some terrible, harmful, untrue things about me. Some things that, if they are believed by anyone who doesn’t know me, could cause me extreme problems and upset. Then, when confronted by others about those lies, she blamed it on having Autism herself, which is simply not true. I was absolutely gutted that she would think of saying such awful things about me, which she knows are all complete lies. She has done similar to her older sister, who has created some distance between them, but not closed contact totally.

I got to the point where this was affecting my health badly, and I stopped trying to contact her. I had to, and she made no effort to contact us.

We speak to my other child and her own toddler every week on video chat and we treasure that relationship. We got occasional updates about my youngest through those chats with her sister. However, through that channel we found that my youngest was missing early ante-natal appointments, smoking, drinking, and had gone off the rails. There was nothing we could do, and it was hard for me to process how I felt.

Last week, though, we heard from her sister that my youngest had been taken into hospital and needed a c-section at 29 weeks, due to complications. My youngest did try to contact me but I was at work, and it was manic, so I couldn’t talk. I still intended to stick to my original decision of letting her get on with it because she has support from her mum, stepdad, and one lot of grandparents. She had made her bed, as far as I was concerned, and she had to lie in it. Lie being the operative word.

Then, out of the blue two days later, my eldest sent me two photos of a tiny red human being weighing not even 2lbs. I tried to call the hospital but was told they could not put me through. I couldn’t speak to her.

The photo totally and utterly floored me in a way I hadn’t expected. I was at work when I saw the picture, but I started to cry. Then I got a surge of anger, which Mrs Bob tells me is usually how I process all big emotions. Then I just went very quiet. My mind couldn’t keep up with all these different emotions fighting for control. I’m still trying to process them all as fast as they arrive but it’s futile, like trying to move the Sahara with a de(s)sert spoon.

I know I’m going to shut down all emotion around this now – i can feel it. It’s not a case of if, but whenbecause they’re just too big for me to be able to process. The thing is, I can’t figure out where to go from here. Do I just forgive my youngest for all the trouble she’s caused and the awful things she’s told people, and welcome the new arrival into the family? Going on past experience she will pay lip service to the word “sorry”, but won’t mean it or think about what she’s done, and will do similar again.

Or do I continue down the road I was already headed?

I pride myself on being very logical and I’m sometimes told that I can appear cold, but I’m so mentally exhausted and confused, I don’t know what to do. Mrs Bob has advised me, but I need more input.

Stay Safe X

Social? Network

I have noticed recently, whilst on social networking, that there’s a lot that this grumpy 40-odd-year old Autistic guy doesn’t understand .. and some things that I frankly never will.

The first of these is what I guess is classed as ‘politically correct’ language. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no dinosaur stuck in days gone by when certain words were acceptable, but are now deemed offensive. I understand the evolution of language and that the fast-paced world that we live in is always trying to improve… and I agree with that philosophy wholeheartedly.

However, I’m constantly being told I’ve used the wrong term, pronoun, etc and that I should be ashamed of myself, or that I’ve offended someone or I haven’t put a “trigger warning” on something and I struggle to understand why what I’ve written has offended someone. I would never want to hurt or upset anyone, ever, and I always try to get it right, but I fail sometimes.

It seems that the small minority of people are desperately searching for something to be offended by. I know there are trolls out there who take great pleasure in upsetting people, but I certainly don’t and I don’t think the majority do. I think that most people are like me … not trying to offend at all and having very good intentions behind our posts, memes, etc. I try hard to keep up with these things, but it seems the goalposts keep shifting.

So, please, before you start tearing into me online for something, stop and think to yourself. If you have truly been offended or hurt by something I’ve said, why not just be polite and explain what the issue is? Help me to see where I went wrong, instead of bawling out insults and being rude to me. Just because I’m Autistic, doesn’t meant your words won’t hurt me.

Education achieves so much more than rudeness, and people are more likely to respond to that than someone turning the caps lock on and ranting over a simple mistake. After all, can each of us say we’ve never made a mistake? I make them honestly and regularly.

The second thing I’m noticing online, is the fact that the Autistic Community seems to be very divided and almost in a constant state of civil war. Should we not try to find those things that bind us and try as a neurodiverse tribe to stand together, shoulder to shoulder? Lifting each other up instead of putting them down is so much more productive. It’s just my humble opinion, but I think we could achieve more together with strength in numbers to figure out how best to raise awareness about harmful practises, and damaging concepts like ABA therapy, and organisations like Autism Speaks, etc.

Of course, this is just the wishful thinking of one middle-aged man who has seen his fair share of conflict and just wants an easier life. I can but dream, eh?

Stay Safe X

Person First?

Recently, I saw a poll that was being run by a certain (so called) Autism charity which has a bit of a thing for the colour blue. They wanted to know whether to use person first language or not. For those of you who are not familiar with this idea, they want to refer to us as a Person with Autism as opposed to an Autistic person. This question of how we should define ourselves, and others, is a very complicated and divisive subject for all concerned. For those of us who have Autism, the question is even harder.

This is mainly because there is a fundamental argument over this. Do we say that someone is Autistic? Or that they have Autism? Generally speaking most of us on the spectrum prefer to be called ‘Autistic People’ or some variation of this. Whereas professionals, parents & caregivers seem to prefer the term ‘Person with Autism’.

However this debate within the Autistic community is a long way from finding an answer to the question of ‘whether or not to use person-first language’. It has become a minefield of political correctness, where one wrong word and you’re labelled as rude, insensitive, inappropriate or just plain ignorant. In my humble opinion, as someone on the spectrum, I prefer ‘identity-first’ language because my Autism is important to me. If something is truly a part of me and what I am, should it not follow that I use it to describe myself?

People use descriptors such as gender and race all the time and disability is no different. It’s not like I’m defined by this condition that needs to be separated from me. Autism, or any disability is not something we carry with us, like an accessory or our favourite hat. Rather, it makes up part of who we are. It’s an operating system, and to separate Autism from someone would make them a totally different person. Therefore, identity-first language is very important to me and many people within the Autistic community.

I can’t speak for everyone, though. The people on the spectrum who I’ve had conversations with about this, have agreed with me about identity-first language. It’s not taking away from the person in any way, shape or form – this type of language is an enhancer. After all, it’s rather obvious that human beings are people, and if one needs to be told that, it’s a whole different issue to begin with!

Stay Safe X

Overwhelming

Over the last few months, I’ve had an ongoing strange experience. I’ve started to receive messages from people who have followed me, read my posts and wanted to tell me how my words and thoughts have affected them personally, or a loved one of theirs who is on the Autism Spectrum. These comments have, so far, all been very positive, and I’m aware with the nature of the internet, this is not always the case.

These comments have really shocked me because I just happen to write about things I like or that I find funny. Sometimes I might share an autistic perspective on the events of my day. I started the website and social media feeds to advertise my poetry books, and occasionally to vent about autistic issues; that was all really.

It seems that people are finding what I post helpful and/or interesting and it’s blown me away to think that I’m having an effect on other people’s lives. I’m not entirely sure how to react to it. In one respect, I’m very happy to be raising issues faced by the ASD community and to be helping people. On the flip side, I’m very shy and socially awkward with compliments, and have no idea how to appropriately respond to the kind words people are saying to me. I’ve taken to asking Mrs Bob for help with this part as she always seems to know how to handle this kind of thing.

I would like to say thank-you so much to everyone who takes the time to read my online ramblings. You’re the ones that make this real and without you, I’d be just another voice shouting into the ether.

Your love, kindness and support is so much appreciated.

Stay Safe X

Living for the Weekend.

Well that has been a very busy few days! Eight back-to-back, in total, as a result of me trying to do a favour for another member of staff so they could sort out a few personal problems. I later discovered that this wasn’t the case, and I’ve learnt not to be so trusting of people now – even those I think of as “good friends”.

It was so busy, mainly because the weather has been on our side – it’s been extremely hot. The last two of the shifts were very long ones, in fact, the worst was the last one – by the end of it, I was hot, sweaty, and running out of glasses and supplies.

This last shift really took its toll on me. Not because of the fact it was a long shift or that we were incredibly busy. It was a combination of the constant wave of noise from things like background music and customers talking at me. Some of them were very rude about the time they’d had to wait, even though they could see that I was on my own and trying my hardest. Combined with the onslaught of questions and having to do the whole small talk thing, I just about reached my limit.

After all the stress and pressure of the shift, I joined the rest of my colleagues and started the mammoth task of clearing up, restocking the bar, etc. More importantly, though, I had a chance to catch both my breath and my thoughts. Then, after locking up, walking into the warm night air was wonderful as was driving out of the village and watching the lights disappear into the distance.

I was looking forward to a well-deserved two days off work to rest and recharge, ready for another busy week.

Stay Safe X

Middle Aged & Middle Class

After a very long 8 days at work, it was nice to get a couple of days to myself to do the things I like to do with my wife during down-time.

Firstly, contrary to popular belief, I don’t do the whole laying in bed thing, mainly because my furry alarm clock, Dog, went off in the small hours and he doesn’t have a snooze button. Also, I don’t like ‘wasting’ my day off and as I have a back problem and laying in bed can aggravate it.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I have a routine on my days off. Coffee is the first thing I make, for Mrs Bob and me. We might catch up on our ever-growing Netflix/Amazon watch list and try making a dent in it before going out to the tip, car wash, etc – doing any jobs I’ve put off during the week. Then I usually settle into my favourite chair with a soda and a good (in my opinion) movie. This week’s choice was “Ready Player One!” which even Mrs Bob enjoyed. After this, we decided to do what most middle-aged people do on a Saturday (and something I never thought I’d do after working in one), and visit the local garden centre to get supplies for Mrs Bob’s beloved shrubs. I get a strange enjoyment from doing this… which is a bit disconcerting.

Chilling out after that meant that the next time we ventured out was the following day, to sit by the River Dart to try to cool down. It made me realise that I can drive a nice car, own all the hippest clothes and dress like a 20-year-old frat boy, but I can’t escape the fact that I’ve become quite middle class and middle-aged without even realising it.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve had a wonderful, relaxing, chilled weekend with a wonderful woman.

Stay Safe X