When are you going to grow out of it?

It's a simple idea that causes so many problems: people expect you to grow out of Aspergers.

When you are little you can be naughty, difficult, loud, challenging, excitable and run into the door frame as often as you want. That's just you being you.

When you are a teenager you likely calm down a bit and there is less excitability or running around or being traditionally naughty. You might still be difficult, loud and challenging but all teenagers are so charming! And you still bounce off door frames.

Adulthood beckons, then usually has to beckon again. Are you taking any notice of it? Doing what you should to grow up and be successful? Have you outgrown all your funny little ways? Do you still bounce off door frames?

Adulthood beckons a lot and some aspies rush into it - I know I did - then look around, realise they are in the wrong place and rush right back out again.

Money has to be made, school is left behind and responsibilities are waiting to be claimed. Who wouldn't want to be an adult?

Family start to expect more from you. Yes, they know you have Aspergers but...

If you can manage this, why not that?

If you can do this small step, why not try the big one?

Cajoling, they persuade you into the adult world, expecting a light bulb moment where you will finally see past the Aspergers and know what has to be done.

All right, not all families are like this but quite a few are. If an aspie child grows into the teen and then the adult, surely their behaviours and quirks can be shaped and controlled when they step into the real world.

Except, look at it again. The world is small when we are small and as teens the world opens out, becoming bigger and more complicated than before. Why do you think teenagers can be so difficult? It's not all hormones, some of it is the bleak, terrifying realisation that Life is enormous and none of us really gets to grips with it before it's over.

To an aspie, who already felt the bigness of the world in the first day of Nursery, this sense of imminent discovery, the idea that the world just keeps growing, is always there. All the way through childhood and the teenage years it is hammered home that we have a lot to learn - all the usual stuff and then all the unwritten rules that other people seem to know without learning.

Once you're an adult you have more understanding, more sense of that absolute depth of mystery in the world, in life, in all the many people out there. How is a person supposed to feel this every day and not have some anxiety? How can we cope with this feeling and still train ourselves to undo what Aspergers does, to push forward without knowing if today we can move at all?

The trouble with Aspergers is that it gives this hope almost every single day. New skills are learned, new challenges conquered so when they come round again there is the justified expectation that they will be learned and conquered again. It doesn't work like that.

As fluid as the wind on the meadow, Aspergers gambols over life, stopping where it will, starting if it feels like it, leaving the aspie to cope with some experiences and not others. Could any of us explain the Do days with the Do Nots? What is so different between the days the world is small and the days it is so big it pushes at the sides of the house as it tries to come in?

'I can't today' is spoken out loud only when forced: usually the feeling is enough to make us repel from life, bounced off it by the unseen force which sends us into the comfort and safe places we have woven through these many years.

Growing out of Aspergers is a hope not often spoken but very much felt, by aspies and their families. When he is older, he'll be able to do it. When she is older, she'll feel differently. When I am older, it will be easier. As if the mere fact of aging were enough to change us as people.

Now I am older and some things are easier, I can do more, I do feel differently.

I feel that I can be myself and not worry about it; I can worry about other things. I can look at them and wonder how I will cope with them but now I am older I see I might or I might not cope. There is no rule to growing older, we all age in our bodies and the rest is an unknown. One known is that sometimes I Do and sometimes I Do Not and by listening to how I feel on both those types of day I have become a lot happier.

Aspergers does not get left behind, it is not grown out of like a little sock found behind the sofa. It carries along with us, a fierce friend who knows our innermost secrets and revels in them, leading us astray, laughing at our follies, bouncing us off door frames and making the word No seem like a safe place.

Growing out of it would be no fun, believe me. What would we do with all those amazing skills we have learned? With that ability to talk to complete strangers about random subjects they never expected or to ask them questions they answer without thinking?

A life with Aspergers is so full of questions, often questions with no answer. Living life normally without questions is something that would pay the bills and make everything much less bumpy at times but being able to pause everything, to stop every single thing you are doing to consider a question for which you have no answer, is why I would never want to change.

Where would we put all those wonderful thoughts and feelings carving a creative ravine through our whole lives, making us shining, spectacular, dangerous, metaphysical creatures who still can't work the key in the front door.

Why would we want the simple ability to always be able to set a foot outside that front door when we can be paused in the very act of leaving by the way the light hits the glass, just so.

Why would we ever want to grow out of it?


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

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And my fairy blog!

You can't pack logic and common sense in the same bag

Sometimes a person can have so much logic that common sense won't fit. Or common sense pushes in and logic has to pop right out. There just doesn't seem to be enough room for both at the same time.

It's like this: your friend always packs their shopping bags the wrong way. One day you explain the right way and are absolutely sure you were subtle, calm and kind and that no feelings were hurt. Except then your friend is all touchy about it and snappy and makes out they know how to pack their bags.

(obviously they didn't know or else you wouldn't have had to tell them)

((but now they do))

Feelings were apparently hurt because those bags had been packed wrong all this time, or because your friend has no idea how to take good advice or because, um, maybe they really loved that old way of packing bags? I don't know but feelings were hurt despite your best efforts to approach the subject in a good way.

That's logic and logic kicks you every time when it comes to other people. Logically, your friend should want to know how to pack their bags and should definitely want to know if they have been doing it the wrong way their whole adult life. Logically you have done a good thing in making sure they now have unsquashed bread and finally understand about cross-contamination.

Later, usually much later, in fact usually after consulting with someone else, you discover your friend was upset because you were critical of them in a public place, ie the checkout, and wouldn't take their hint to keep it down and because they didn't seem to be listening you raised your voice and did that thing where you make sure you get your message across no matter what.

Once this is explained common sense makes a brief stopover, just long enough for you to have that familiar sinking feeling but not long enough to make any real difference.

For a period of time after the event you recognise that your behaviour, meant to be so logical and helpful, actually upset/embarrassed/annoyed your friend to the extent that you are now having to seriously consider apologising for being so helpful (it is a truly crazy world).

The best you can now hope for is that next time common sense will step in first and stop you before you get to the stage of using The Voice or even just stop you from talking altogether. You vow never to offer advice again, even though this will mean leaving your friends and family in ignorance and under threat of mistakes you could help them avoid.

This promise to yourself lasts only as long as the sinking feeling and is soon replaced by the happy acceptance, vague, very non-specific, that next time will be different because you now know not to upset your friend in that way.

The next time you go shopping together (it may be a long time) you will remember not to tell them how to pack their bags and you may even notice their nervous glances as they wait for you to say something. You will also notice their meat is now separate from the other food but they still like squashed bread.

And you will be delighted to find you can restore their trust completely by explaining how online shopping works so that they never again need to worry about not being able to pack their bags.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
Find me on Facebook.and Twitter!

And my fairy blog!

There is never just one aspie in the family

Many of us know other people in our family who are 'eccentric' but were never diagnosed with anything. They were just difficult, creative, awkward, inventive, rude, honest, loud, quiet, odd, different, or 'You know, like your Uncle Lenny'.
There are others who are still looked on as the only one in their family on the autistic spectrum. It is just them and only them and they are special or all of the above and they don't fit the family mold.

And I guess it might be so. In a small number of families (really, really dull families and a really small number of them), the aspie might shine out with the brightness of a frost-lit star. Yes, they might be a throwback, the only one who is like this and surrounded by grey normality.

Or Aunty Glenys is just pretending to be normal. And good old Dad with his sedate hobby of model trains would have an actual meltdown if you hadn't all learned to leave his damn trains alone. Or your aspie is really the secret love-child of groovy Mr Fairbanks from down the road.

Either way, autistic spectrum disorders run in the family - they do! You might think your aspie is the only one and you have the diagnosis to prove it , especially as no one else in the family has a diagnosis. Your child struggles with real-life things that you never struggled with so they are the one on the spectrum. Your own set of behaviours are completely normal. It takes an outsider to see where the dots connect.

While your aspie child misunderstands questions, you might misread situations: the misunderstood questions are noticed because you are on the alert for your child getting things wrong but when you misunderstand situations, everyone in the family is already used to re-explaining what they meant so no one mentions it.

Your aspie child might come out of school bawling their eyes out and making the biggest, fattest fuss and how embarrassing that is! and how tempting to whisper to those judgy parents that your child is on the spectrum

never remembering your own isolation at school, your absolute quiet, your need to get everything possible right because of how it felt to be wrong and forgetting entirely how your attention to detail at school led to attention to detail at work and how much you still hate to get anything wrong

but you don't make a fuss, do you? So you are different from your child.

Growing up quiet and filtering out the comments from adults about anything you did that surprised them and understanding you had to do things a certain way to be right, which is all part of growing up, then not recognising when you correct your child for the same things.

Just not getting it. Not getting how Granny's outspoken comments in public could point to something more than her age, or that thing she tried to do with the leftover food last week, or the anxiety you feel when you try to manage the situations with her in them so that everything will still be quiet and controlled.

Not everyone can look at themselves and see what they do in a clear light, but it can be too easy to look at the aspie in your family and explain how you see them. Putting the spotlight on someone else does not mean you don't share the same stage.

You have an aspie in the family, does it not seem likely they aren't the first? And how far back do you have to go before you find someone else on the spectrum? It is a very big spectrum full of pretty colours, I'm sure you could identify a few of them if you looked.

And if you do have the first aspie in your family, well wow! That does make you special! And I mean that in a good way. You're special, yes you are!

(That part is sarcasm, in case you sometimes feel you need it pointed out to you.)

((I know, I know, it's completely normal to need sarcasm pointing out to you, isn't it?))

Every child is different and they all need treated they way that suits them. Being on the spectrum is just another part of family life, even if it seems like a great big part. As your child grows, it would be much better to show them the example of how to manage life rather than tell them how they don't manage.

And when you are fishing things back out of the toilet or extricating your child from another adventure, just think how lucky you are to be one of those families where there is always something going on and how dull life would be without it.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
Find me on Facebook.and Twitter!

And my fairy blog!