About Bob Christian

Aspie, Poet, Dyslexic, Blogger, Father & Husband. Author of Behind the Mask, Scribblology & Alexithymia.

Estate of Mind (2019 Remix)

Here we have a remix of a piece I wrote years ago for my anthology, Scribblology V2.

I decided to look at it again, and re-evaluate it. Bring it up to date. So here it is. I hope you enjoy it, but do let me know what you think.

Stay Safe X

Estate of Mind (2019 Remix)

Bob W Christian

Take a walk down a dark memory lane with me…

A nightmare experiment on social deprivation.

These ends have seen better days; boys from

Eton messed up – screwed us over for a profit.

Calling us drunks, criminals, feckless idiots,

Looking down from your nonflammable towers.

We can’t ignore this horror story like you can.

Streets littered with heroin needles; hell-raising

Flames shooting from cars; replacing the broken lamps,

Lighting up the desperate estate of mind we call reality.

“Get a job, save up, better yourself, pull yourself out

Of austerity. Climb that property ladder”,

While living cheque-to-cheque. Can’t deposit on zero hours.

Withdrawing food from banks; it’s no way to live.

We really are in this together, fighting to survive.

(C) Bob W Christian

Holi Bob

Last week, I had a whole week off work as I had a lot of holiday time to use up, and now that the season is drawing to a close I needed to take some. I haven’t had time off since our cruise in early May, so it was well overdue. I’m actually not a big fan of taking holiday time off work for a few reasons: it disrupts my usual routine, and I lose track of what day it is. Sounds silly, but cast your mind back to last Christmas, when you tried to remember when the bins go out and which bin to put out – see? It’s not only an Aspie problem!

We decided that we’d like to do something different with my time off, and with that in mind, I treated myself to a nice cooked breakfast in town. Then I did some clearing out of my games console, wrote some new scribbles and really started to unwind. One day, I took Mrs Bob to Living Coast, a local penguin sanctuary and although we chose a very windy and slightly chilly, it was a great day. There were very few other people there, so we chilled out and took our time. The highlight of the trip for me (not Mrs Bob) was a little penguin called Evie, who refused to socialise with the other penguins. While Mrs Bob was watching the keeper play with Evie’s brothers and sisters (with a cat toy on a stick … hilarious!) Evie snuck on Mrs Bob and started to peck her leg. Mrs Bob didn’t mind, but the keeper moved us both out of the way pretty sharpish. She was such an adorable little thing and seemed not to fit in. Anyway, after that excitement, and having seen seals, cormorants, other birds and fish and generally had a wonderful time, we grabbed a drink in the cafe before heading home.

Later in the week, we had a movie afternoon with the latest Spider-Man, which we both really enjoyed. The whole week was so relaxing and fun that we even managed to spend a lovely evening with Mrs Bob’s mother, while we tried to teach her how to use her new-fangled iPad, which wasn’t as stressful as I’d thought it would be. Admittedly, I was dipping in and out of the conversation while watching the only sporting event that I’m interested in – the annual collage football game between Harvard vs Yale. This was the 136 match up, and I was gutted that Harvard lost 43-50 in the second overtime slot, but there’s always next year, right?

All in all, this time away from work has really opened my eyes to a lot of things. It’s also made me realise how much I enjoy being at home doing my own thing, and that at some point, should I want to retire, I could happily do it and spend quality time driving Mrs Bob gradually up the wall.

Stay Safe X

Action Plan

If you’re a regular reader of my ramblings (thank you, if you are,) you might recall my post on 22nd September this year, regarding an incident with a supermarket guard. For those that don’t, or who would like a recap, here is the link:

More Reasons to Despair (Bob W Christian)

Last week, unbeknownst to me, Mrs Bob had a meeting with two very senior managers for the south-west region of a certain supermarket chain. I knew it was going to happen, but had no idea when. She knew it would be much less stressful for me if I didn’t know. Considering she suffers from anxiety from dealing with complaints, which is related to her career, it was really wonderful of her to do this for me.

This meeting was as a result of our complaint about an incident in our local branch with an over-zealous, and under-educated member of their security staff. Up to this point, our complaint had been handled poorly. I’m no expert on the subject (unlike Mrs Bob) but I felt my granddaughter could have done a better job. The social media team were saying one thing, and the customer services team were saying something very different about the same incident. It was trying Mrs Bob’s usually endless patience to the very edge, so it was about time this complaint was sorted, once and for all.

Mrs Bob spoke at length with the very senior representatives of the supermarket chain. She explained to them that after my complaint about the particular guard’s attitude towards me & Autism, people had started contacting me with similar stories all connected to the same guard. (By the way, thank you to all the peeps that made me feel less alone after such a horrible, distressing experience).

The long and short of it is that there’s going to be some new procedures put into place nationally, alongside more Autism training for their staff. The south west branch managers will be having 1:1 meetings with their guards, regarding Autism and the subject of training will be included in their contract review with the company that provides the guards. So hopefully this means that it won’t happen to another person on the spectrum within their stores.

Overall, I was very impressed with the action plan from their meeting with Mrs Bob. However, I do think that these things should already be in place in their stores already, Autism isn’t a new thing and they have a quiet hour for people with autism or who like the quiet. The length of time, effort and stress it took to get a supposedly autism-friendly chain to even acknowledge there was an issue is ridiculous. Just sweeping a complaint under the rug might get some people to leave things, but not Mrs Bob – she’s tenacious in sticking up for me and gets things done. Also, I won’t be able to return to our local store since the guard threatened me with the Police if I ever did. Though I’ve been told that is not the case, I still can’t go back. I’d be far too anxious and not being able to use the only supermarket in town and it’s petrol station is a real inconvenience. I’d just rather not risk having a another confrontation like this. I’ve decided to “Try Something New Today” and see what other superstores have to offer. If they’re cheaper, I can live well for less lol.

I would, however, like to say a massive thank-you to Mrs Bob for all her hard work on this, and to all of my friends and people on Insta Google Tweetface who have supported and encouraged me.

Thank-you all.

Stay Safe X

Live Tonight – Tired Out

This afternoon, I’ve been taking lessons in how to speak, act and express the emotions I write about, as I bring them to life. Mrs Bob has taught me to sound less robotic than before, so I decided to video a read of my latest scribble, Panic Disorder, just for fun.

The downside is that while watching it back, I had a real shock to see what you all see, when you talk to me … my lack of eye contact. It astounded me. I’ve always thought I’d managed to pull that trick off when I mask my discomfort with eye contact, but it . appears that I haven’t. That’s not an issue, really, or at least, it’s not one I’m concerned by as I usually wear sunglasses to perform. A tip I took from good old Roy Orbison, as he had crippling stage fright. But it does matter in my job and in life generally.

I could also slow it down, instead of going at it like a 100m sprinter on crack. Again, I can learn to sort out that issue, so all in all it’s looking up. I like it when Mrs Bob films my public readings, so I can see where I can improve.

This, combined with an afternoon of Marvel Lego with Mrs Bob, a video chat with my granddaughter, and a cracking dinner of slow-cooked roast pork, means it’s been a nice, productive and relaxing day off.

Anyway, here is said video. Hope you enjoy it.

Stay Safe X

Panic Disorder Live

Ask an Aspie

I’ve recently been asked questions by customers, colleagues and friends, about having Asperger’s Syndrome or just Autism in general. So, I thought I’d post something along the lines of what I’ve been asked, in case anyone who reads this is unsure.

I like to clear up some myths and misinformation that surrounds this condition. After all, if you want to know something, you may as well go straight to the source! I should clarify… I’m not claiming to have all the answers, it’s just my opinion.

Here are some of the most common myths that I’ve come across, together with what I perceive to be the truth.

Myth – “Autism is caused by vaccination”

This is one of the biggest myths being perpetuated today. It was first brought to light in 1998 when (now disgraced and struck-off GP) Andrew Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council of dishonesty and flouting ethics protocols. (BMJ 2010;340:c696) There have been many scientific research papers undertaken on this subject, and put simply, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support his claim. If it were the case, we’d have been able to replicate and prove his claims. Autism is extremely complex and appears to be caused by various combinations of factors, including genes, environmental influences, etc. Unfortunately, many parents have been seduced by Wakefield’s outright lie and have taken the extremely foolhardy and dangerous decision not to vaccinate their children. Other parents of autistic children are looking for a quick and easy answer, and for the promise of a sudden halt to autism or a “cure”.
The thing is that life is not that straightforward. Enormous efforts are being made to look at all the factors involved, with the aim of understanding autism better, and hopefully in the future finding a way of treating its more challenging symptoms in a positive and sympathetic way.

Myth – All Autistics have savant skills, just like Rain Man.

This myth is one that really irritates me. It began after the 1988 movie Rainman in which an autistic character played by Dustin Hoffman has savant-type abilities. The character is based on real-life mega-savant Kim Peek.

I used to work at a pub where a staff member and a regular used to drop cocktail sticks on the bar and tease me, asking me to tell them immediately how many sticks were in the pile. They used to call me “Raymond”, as they had seen the film Rain Man and assumed that all autistic people are like that. It’s quite simple – we can’t all recite the phone book, or tell anyone what day of the week they were born. Certainly, some Autistic people can perform some amazing memory feats, but this isn’t common. Many of us on the Autism Spectrum have various strengths, such as being visual learners or having a good visual memory. I have an exceptional memory for television and movie facts and scripts, much to the annoyance of Mrs Bob. But I’m not a savant. Just as Neurotypicals, we’re all different and all have our own talents.

“So, is that like being retarded?”

Factually speaking, in many cases Autistic people do not have an intellectual or cognitive disability. Likewise, many people who have intellectual or cognitive disabilities are not Autistic. It’s a common misconception that we are all mentally disabled and therefore slow or retarded. There are some Autistic people who also have an intellectual or cognitive disability. Nevertheless, the word “retarded” is very hurtful to use to anyone because it’s frequently used as an insult to dehumanise people. It’s also used to express hatred for people with disabilities. Please don’t use it.

“You should be very proud of yourself. You seem so normal. I couldn’t tell you’re Autistic.”

This is very frequently said to me and to other Autistic people whose autism is less obvious. It’s insulting, because it suggests that, just because the person doesn’t appear to be disabled or fit preconceptions of what Autistic people are supposed to be, they are not Autistic. It also suggests that “normal” is the standard to which anyone should aspire to appear or act and that “normal” should be the ultimate goal for therapies or treatments for autism. This isn’t the case. Instead, the goal is to teach pragmatic coping skills to navigate a world where those with autism are currently in a minority. I am proud of the skills autism has given me, not ashamed.

This phrase also gives the impression that it isn’t acceptable to act or speak in ways commonly associated with being Autistic, even if those behaviours don’t actually hurt anyone. This is dismissive of a person’s disability and experiences. It’s like saying “you’re married/have a job/go to college. You couldn’t do that if you were really Autistic.” Yes, it’s true that not every Autistic person will get married, have a job or go to college, but likewise, not every neurotypical will do those things. But plenty in both category do. This statement is insulting because it’s ableist. (For those who may not regularly read my blog, ableism is like racism, ageism or sexism, but directed toward people with disabilities).

While not every Autistic person may be able to do some or all of these things, it’s very ableist to assume that no Autistic person can, or that anyone who can do those things must be neurotypical.

It’s actually very hard to get a diagnosis of Autism. You have to fit a very specific set of criteria and there is a real reluctance to diagnose unless those criteria are met, especially adults. So, when someone has a formal diagnosis, like me, there really is very little room for doubt, and that diagnosis should be respected and accepted by everyone.

“I know a kid whose autism is really severe. You don’t seem like him.”

Every Autistic person is different, because autism is a wide-ranging spectrum. It gives a huge range of individual abilities, skills, needs and challenges. It is impossible to know what an Autistic person’s abilities and skills are versus their needs and challenges after just a brief conversation (either in person or in the comments thread of an internet post). What makes Autistic people a group united by a shared diagnosis, are the commonalities of all Autistic people. All Autistic people share some of the same core characteristics that define autism and which lead to a formal diagnosis:-

Key differences in neurological functioning, sensory and cognitive processing, and communication abilities that often manifest as disability. Autistic people are Autistic regardless of whether they look, speak or act like another Autistic person you know or know of. There is a great phrase that sums this up in my opinion:

Once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism” – Dr Stephen Shaw.

“Autism is something kids grow out of”

I have heard this a number of times and it is completely wrong. We don’t grow out of our autism – it’s a lifelong condition – we just adapt as we grow up, learn to hide things and get better at adapting. I personally treat it as a science experiment – I give a response and if it causes offence or the wrong reaction, I try another response and try to remember not to use the one that didn’t work, again. If it works, I’ll try it again a few times and if I get a positive result, I’ll keep it and use it from then on.

Here are some general facts and statistics about Autism, which might surprise you:

Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 1001. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.

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 is autistic.

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.

70% of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. The same number also said 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 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work.

Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it.

Around 700,000 people may be autistic. That’s more than 1 in 100 in the population. There is no register or exact count kept.

The latest studies of autism indicate that 1.1% of the population in the UK may be on the autism spectrum. This means that over 695,000 people in the UK may be autistic – an estimate derived from the 1.1% prevalence rate applied to the 2011 UK census.

Panic Disorder

I’d like to take a minute to talk to you. Yes, you at the back. Grab a chair, get comfortable.
The following scribble is not an indication of my state of mind, in any way at all. Not in any multiverse.. well, okay, String Theory says that it has to be the case in at least one. So.. not in this universe, anyway.
This is merely my interpretation of the experience someone might have with anxiety. 
Please understand that I’m perfectly fine. I just wanted to write something with a deep emotion in it, while I relaxed with some music and my Mrs Bob. So don’t fret. Lots of love to you all. Yes even to you.
Stay Safe X

(Panic Disorder)

By Bob Christian.

Here we are again, my old companion.

You’ve given me so many nightmares;

Waking up sweating with dark and horrific 

Memories stuck on repeat in my head.

Try as I might, I can’t erase or forget them.

Aren’t I supposed to be a grown-up now?

Not scared to be home alone inside

My head. That’s when you’re at your worst.

Your images haunting me over the years.

We’ve grown up together, side-by-side.

Ive tried evicting you a few times. Yet

Here you are, throwing your friends

A pity party. I can’t remember the first

Time you attacked me. Your knife in my gut.

Icy fingers on my neck, stopping my scream.

Still you’re my oldest companion. I’ve tried

Staying awake, hoping you’d sleep before me.

Tried drowning you – you’ve learnt to swim.

Always awaiting your return now. I guess

With us it’s “‘Til death do us part”. 

(C) Bob Christian 2019

Rainy Day Parade

Grab your umbrella for my latest scribble. Titled Rainy Day Parade

(NB this is a first draft, final results may vary).

Rainy Day Parade

Looks like all fallacies become

Self-fulfilling prophecies, huh?

You’ve no idea, life without dad?

Really?! Poor you, that’s why you’re sad?

I wrote the book on this supposed

Life you’ve had.

I was eight, Mother’s Day morning 

Mum trying to be strong. Asking 

Where? Why? But my dad was gone.

I was sent to boarding school, beaten,

Bullied, hated. Difference is I’ve lived

Your fantasy.

A nightmare thinking ’bout that stuff.

Daily school beatings, so much anger

Aimed everywhere, mistakenly. Not

At some sperm donor who bolted.

Tried to run from me, but tripped, fell 

Broke his legs

You lie for sympathy. Hurt others. 

i had to learn how to mend myself.

To walk again I’ve made mistakes.

Made me much stronger than him

Made me the man I am. Granfather

Time, to stop

These damaging lies. Truth is, you’re the 

Only one who believes your home-made

Horror story. Look out behind you!  Its

The door-smashing axe-wielding bogey

Man! I hope he’s not too drunk. No angel. No devil either.