Hate Speach

This evening while at the bar I came across something I’ve normally only seen online, and from someone who’s profession is such that I would expect better from them.

It started with a teacher who is also a local parish councillor and one of my regulars discussing various decisive subjects such as Donald J Trump and Brexit I tend to stay away from such subjects as they often cause heated discussions between those involved and I like to keep some sort of harmonious environment in the bar area.

This was fine until the said teacher began discussing vaccines which I stayed out of until he said that he hadn’t vaccinated his children as giving a child the MMR vaccine at 2 months old (it’s not given till 12-13 months old) would cause irreparable damage. He then began quoting the now barred and discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research paper. I asked him if he was aware the research had been proven untrue and that as a result he was de registered as a doctor.

British Medical Journal Findings

The gentleman went on to say that Wakefield was right and it was a conspiracy to control the population. The regular then laughed at this comment as did a couple of other customers. Then came the worst remark I’ve ever heard personally. He then went onto say that he would rather not vaccinate his kids than have them become autistic as autistic people are such a drain on society and the NHS.

I nearly lost my temper with the customer at this point. I mean for someone who is supposed to be an educator this is such a ridiculous opinion regarding vaccines, but to then top that off with such a vile hateful and sweeping statement about the autistic community. Is disgusting, incorrect and damaging. I know a number of autistic people like me that have achieved so much. I could list the number of famous people that are on the autism spectrum. I could show figures and statistics to back this up but most people know that statement was factually inaccurate and wrong.

It saddens and angers me that in this day and age. That people will openly spew such vile things in a public place. Until now I’ve only experienced such hate speech online. Where the poster can hide behind anonymity and a computer screen. It seems that some people are now getting brave and regurgitating the rubbish they read and spout on the internet in public.It’s a shame that these kind of views still exist, be careful and as always.

Stay Safe X

Annual Gift Day

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Yule – call it what you choose, it’s that time of the year when we decorate our homes with a tree, candles, and tinsel, and we have family and friends and family around to share drink and food. I’d like to take a look at things from the point of a person on the spectrum.

Autism and Christmas are not always the best mates. It can be a very stressful time for any family, but especially so for families with an autistic family member. Changes in usual routines, heightened expectations, and possible sensory overloads all add to anxiety levels and a sense of being overwhelmed.

Remember that every individual on the spectrum is very different. Each family and its dynamic is different, and will have its own traditions, routines and priorities. For some families, it is a rare occasion to enjoy seeing members of the extended family. Others find it is a time to share with just the immediate family members. Some might not have family, choosing to spend it either with friends or alone. Whatever the situation in your household, you will need to decide well in advance what your own priorities are.

If you have an austistic family member, it might help to ask yourself some of the following questions to help prepare for the festive season.

Guests and Family

  1. Who are the people you need to spend time with over Christmas?
  2. How long do you need to spend time with those people who do not form part of your daily life?
  3. How is everyone’s behaviour going to change – how will people greet others, how much you be eaten and drunk, how much louder/quieter will people be speaking?

Environment and House

  1. How much of the house will be decorated?
  2. Will there be Christmas-free zones?
  3. What sort of lights will be used? Will they flash?
  4. Will there be extra sounds, eg Christmas songs playing?
  5. How will the shops you visit change – seasonal goods, seasonal music, bands playing?

Routines

  1. How will television programmes change?
  2. Will you spend more or less time at home?
  3. When will your routines be restored?

Once you have established what your family’s Christmas celebrations will look like, the guest list is sorted and you’re clear what your priorities are, you will need to plan well in advance to help any of the autistic members of the family to prepare and to help to reduce their anxieties and confusion.

The main thing above everything is to not put too much pressure on the autistic members of your family or yourself. Just try to enjoy the holiday season and then start to prepare for next big event on the calendar, New Years Eve!

Stay Safe X

Branching Out

The other night I decided to do something completely out of my comfort zone and out of character for me.

It started with an email from the secretary of an organisation that I belong to, with an invitation. The branch in my home town was having a meeting, part of which was a talk on the branch’s longest-serving secretary, who had been in the role for 43 years. This 25-minute talk was fascinating, and it was really nice to see how things were done there, compared to my normal group. I don’t attend the one in my home town, because at the time I joined they met on an evening when I was routinely at work, so I had to go further afield.

The one thing I forgot about was the fact that, as a visitor, you are expected to stand up and say a few words to introduce yourself to the group. This was where, I must admit, I surprised myself. I was a little deer in the headlights to start with if I’m honest, but I didn’t do too badly.

Afterwards, I realised that I had managed to do something that I wouldn’t have normally thought possible. Visiting a strange, unfamiliar place, without anyone else there to support me, and not knowing anyone there either. At the end of the night, I had made a few new friends and, as a result, I’m now looking at other branches to visit and maybe make some more friends. I know – steady on, Bob, you could end up with a social life!

The main thing I’ve learnt is that if I push myself outside of my comfort zone, the results can be surprising. So it may seem scary at the time, but the results may be spectacular, though I know that’s not always the case.

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Home Strait

I can hardly contain my excitement at the moment as I’ve finished all my hard work and contributions to my latest project. It’s now all in the hands of my wonderful and long-suffering wife.

This is my third anthology to date, and possibly my last (but who knows). It’s called Alexithymia and I’m very excited. I can’t wait to share it with the world, but I have decided to wait until 2019 to officially release it.

In the meantime Mrs Bob is now doing all the hard work: editing, proofing, formatting, organising and generally polishing it so that it’s accepted by Amazon Publishing – and fit for human consumption. This is the hardest part with any literary project, as it’s all well and good having ideas but it takes the hard work and professionalism of those behind the scenes to make it shine.

So while things are on the home strait for us now, this is truly where the real graft begins. Stay tuned for further updates, and a huge thank you in advance to Mrs Bob for all her hard work.

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Four Stars

I have finally had my first ever peer review of my second anthology Scribblology.

What can I say other than I’m blown away by this detailed review of my work by Realistic Poetry International. This has also helped me feel better about what I do, what I mean is it’s given me the validation I needed to believe in myself and feel that maybe I am a poet.

I thought I would share the review with you.

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Scribblology by Author Bob Christian Reviewed by Realistic Poetry International

Right off the back, it’s easy to sense Author Bob Christian’s bold personality through his outspoken, candid introduction, briefly providing us with a snapshot of his life’s journey, from his youth to present day, paying much esteem to his family, especially his wife and children. In fact, in the first poem of this book he says,

“…when I’m on top of the world – Thoughts racing at a million miles per hour, like the beautiful day my angels came into this world.” Comparing the apples of his eye to heavenly, divine beings.

And with life and its adversities confronting him on a daily basis, at times, even challenging his mental capacity (Cerebral Overclock, pg. 10), an ethereal aura of love, family, and support is the perfect antidote!

Firstly, we commend Author Bob Christian for sharing his truth and experience in living with autism, a complex neurobehavioral condition that primarily impacts a person’s social life, communication skills, and speech/behavior, covering a broad range of symptoms, skills, and impairment.

Unashamed of his identity and all of what it encompasses, the Author immediately addresses how regardless of his diagnosis and its effects, autism makes him no less than the next man, and we are completely in awe of his nonchalant, positive spirit towards this reality!

In the poem, “Cerebral Overclock,” he writes

“You think just because you have a few pieces of paper from an adult education center you’re smarter than me? Because I’m on the autism spectrum? Disorder? Not a bit.”

Though his words may come off a bit strong to some, his strength, as he explains in his poetry, is nearly a necessity and assists him in conquering challenging goals that he must overcome in his life in order to adapt to unfamiliar situations.

Yet and still, Bob tells us how there are most certainly attitudes AND certain phrases, like when people say to him, “you don’t look autistic (One Little Phrase, pg. 9),” that easily spark the fuse to his anger – and he doesn’t hold back in expressing his frustration with these types of attitudes and outlooks.

Bob Christian suggests in response to this that people, at least, try to think first BEFORE verbally judging someone based on their external circumstances or appearance. His underlying point, we’re sure, resonates with many who have also encountered a similar situation.

Focusing back in on his personal life, Author Bob Christian stands tall for love in the poem, “Invisible Enemy,” and is prepared to protect the queen of his kingdom at all costs! Flowing with a passion as vibrant as rubies, he extols his wife’s very existence and vows to never betray his partner, ever again, openly confessing to past mistakes he’s made that nearly stole their entire beautiful, happy life.

There is no doubt that the sincerity and honesty in his words reflects his experience with adversity, conflict, and tribulation. In many poems, conveying his tempestuous disposition, verbally bashing people, ideas, and practices he believes are truly ineffective, vain, and provoke bad rather than good, especially when it comes to helping and comforting humanity.

A pivotal example of this perspective is visible in the poem, “Cheer Up.” In the format of a list numbered 1-7, Christian explains the details behind his thoughts when someone tells him to, “cheer up,” in response to his “neurological state of depression and anxiety.”

Without apology, he tells his targeted audience that the “great anti-depressant” phrase, “CHEER UP,” doesn’t work when the issue at hand is a part of one’s everyday life; inevitable and unavoidable, no matter how many positive words one may conjure.

While we understand and admire his honesty, we cannot deny the flagrant and fierce approach in how the Author conveys his words and feelings. Poems such as “Estate of Mind” go on to explain how Bob Christian views the world we live in, as a ‘depressing reality’ that ultimately takes a huge toll on all human beings. This poem addresses other important societal issues such as financial problems, poverty, stature, and the cost of living.

We love the poem, “Angels,” a tribute and dedication to his blossoming seeds that delivers an eternal promise no child can ever forget, securing his children’s heart with a dad’s safety, guidance, and wisdom, and signing off on his promise with his life.

And he doesn’t forget to pay homage to those he calls his friend as in the poem, “Goodbye Old Friend,” which ironically, is a poetic dedication to all of the furry companions who have passed on from our earthly world. Its message is compassionately thoughtful and is a great example of the emotion, empathy.

In addition to this, other poems such as “Internal Universe,” and “Fairytale,” also reveal a softer side of the Author compared to other poems in the collection, as he travels down memory lane and reminisces on some of the most sentimental moments he can recall, like when he first met the love of his life, or how he admires and sees the internal universe within her virtuous soul. The love and adoration he has is truly remarkable and shines brightly.

In sum, we believe this collection cries tears of pain, weariness, and sorrow, even though it is clear Bob Christian is a fighter and will not relent. Death, love, mental health, family, friendship, adversity, and the battle of life are amongst the many topics discussed throughout the book, providing a variety of topics to ponder, from personal to social.

We rate this book with 4-stars and believe it is an honest poetic testimonial written from the soul and heart.

Education is the Key

I decided to pop onto Twitter this afternoon while laid up with a viral infection, to catch up on all the latest goings-on, on social media.

I was bombarded with a number of stories regarding Richard Madeley’s appearance on the TV show Good Morning Britain. An autistic guest from the TV show The Undateables, Daniel Wakeford, was there with his mother, to promote his music.

During this interview, Richard asked his mother, “Has Daniel always been autistic?” His mother was somewhat taken aback by this, but answered this question. After watching this, I was quite angry as (it seems) most autistic people were. I took to Twitter to express my anger at such an idiotic question. I saw some great comebacks and quips at first, but then came the wave of Autism mums, demanding that Richard be sacked, demanding their pound of flesh p, amounting to wanting his head on a spike. All this vitriol bubbles up, but I’m sorry ladies, I’m going to respectfully disagree with your views on how this should be handled.

I’m speaking from first-hand life experience of Autism, not through my children or a group on Facebook. In my humble opinion, it’s all very well grabbing your virtual pitchforks and torches and demanding the latest celebrity be publicly flogged, but what does that really solve or achieve? The answer is: nothing. It won’t correct the mistake. It won’t break the laws of physics and take us back in time to stop it from happening. It will just create more anger and bitterness.

The best way to go forward with this kind of event, where a misguided question or comment like this is made without any malice or negativity intended, is to educate the individual concerned. That way, people can learn from their mistakes, and move forward instead being punished. We need to educate and raise awareness of Autism and the impact it has on people’s everyday lives, then more people can learn and move forward with better information about Autism.

If you want to know anything about autism, ask someone who’s on the spectrum.

Stay Safe X

Family Roadtrip

This week has been very busy so far for Mrs Bob and me. After a long, slightly stressful week at work I had two days off, as my weekend is on a Monday and Tuesday. It’s usually a time of rest and relaxation – well, apart from my gym routine – but that’s another story.

This week was different, as Mrs Bob’s mother was heading back to South Africa for winter. She needed a lift to Ascot in Berkshire and had asked me if I’d drive her up. I asked Mrs Bob if she’d like to come too, as she can find long journeys hard physically, and isn’t always able to come. She said she would, and we could get a night away from home to enjoy some time just the two of us. Plus we could share the driving, as it’s a near-400 mile round trip.

Mrs Bob did the drive up, and with very few delays we were able to drop her mother off with an old friend in the early afternoon. This meant that we now had the day to ourselves to do with as we saw fit. We checked into our hotel, and got changed before going to get some flowers and visiting the church where her auntie and family, including her great grandparents are buried. This was, surprisingly for me, quite an emotional event, but it was nothing on what happened next. We drove five minutes down the road to our next stop. This was the place Mrs Bob’s father’s ashes are buried, and was obviously particularly hard for Mrs Bob, as she was very close to her dad. It’s been a while since we visited him, and we both had a good chat with him, cleaned up his stone, and just enjoyed a nice warm autumn afternoon in a beautiful setting, before heading back to the hotel.

After all that, I needed a stiff drink. I will explain that I was never fortunate enough to meet my father-in-law, as he passed away just before I met Mrs Bob. I have, however, talked to family and friends and I really wish I had been able to meet him. He was an incredible man who had such a huge impact, and is so important to Mrs Bob’s life that it was a huge honour to be asked to take his ashes and place them in his final resting place five years ago. So I do feel a big connection to him and, as such, I find it very emotionally draining when we see him. I know that as an Aspie we are not supposed to have emotions, but that’s a myth. The truth is that we really struggle with expressing how we feel, and processing emotions.

All in all, a very emotionally charged couple of days, with goodbyes and catching up with loved ones, a 4am start and around 400 miles on the road in a small metal container on wheels. Despite everything, Mrs Bob and I had each other’s back from start to finish and Dog (the cat) wasn’t too upset at our disappearance, despite his tweets to the contrary.

Feedback Loop

It’s been a strange few weeks since my appearance at the the national poetry day. I’ve had quite a few people recognise me and talk to me about the event, and asking how it went. Some people have even given me some very encouraging feedback on the pieces I performed. This has helped me no end; it lets me know where I’m going wrong and where I’m hitting the mark, so to speak.

The advertising for the event has also helped people to find my website and to see my ramblings on here. Yet again, I’ve had some very positive and helpful feedback about the blog, with a number of people actually taking the time out of their day to read my thoughts and to tell me that I’ve really helped them. I’m very grateful for this.

I must also say this – please don’t be surprised if, when you speak to me, I seem a little off or quiet. I’m not used to people talking to me about my scribbles or my ramblings in all honesty. Like many people, I suffer from Imposter Syndrome with regard to my poetry. So I can find it a little overwhelming, and to top it off, I’m also an extremely shy and nervous person too.

Please don’t let this stop you contacting or speaking to me about it, though. I am very grateful for all of your love, support & feedback – so thank you.

Stay Safe X

Daisy’s On Fire!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Daisy Burton, she’s the guest poet from my last book Scribblology and the author of the new novel Sensible.

As you can see it’s getting some great reviews. I’ve read it and can agree with them – it’s a fantastic read. I’d like to shout out for my partner in rhymes and her amazing new project. If you’re interested in reading it, the link is below.

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sensible-Daisy-Burton/dp/1717239447

Mental Health Awareness

As I’m sure some of you who know me will agree, I’m a very outspoken advocate of mental health.

As such, I’ve decided to share a little scribble with you as it’s World Mental Health Day. This is from my upcoming anthology, Alexithymia, so please enjoy and let’s try and raise awareness of mental health issues.

Stop

Please stop for a minute.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

Don’t do what it is that,

You’re planning to do.

Let these words reach you

While I have your attention.

I won’t try to say that I know

The things you’re going through.

Just know that this pain

You’re feeling right now?

I’ve been there – reaching

For the solution in whatever

Form it might take – cold steel,

Booze or pills. So, even though

I don’t know you, we have, at this

Point, something in common.

I was twenty-seven the first time

I felt I was out of options. Taking

The ultimate step that day

When I tried to put myself away.

I felt like I was screaming inside.

Remember, I’ve been where you

Are. I’ve walked that mile in those

Shoes; I want you to know this:

You are stronger than you realise.

This is a fight you can win, even

If your doubts drown everything

Out, hold on a little longer. Stay.

Let me talk to you. Let my words

Through, even if you don’t

Think you can do it. I’ll share

This pain; be a voice of reason.

You have better times ahead

Believe me, try to see, I beg of

you. Don’t take your life. Instead,

Take my hand – we’ll do this together.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Stay Safe X