What's so hard about Aspergers?

This isn't a question people ask you very often. What you are asked instead is:

'What's so hard about going to the party?'
'What's so hard about going to school?'
'What's so hard about going to work?'
'What's so hard about talking to your cousin?'
'What's so hard about talking to me?'
and, the favourite,
'What's so hard about remembering one little thing?'

What's so hard? If asked, do you give a long, detailed, enlightening answer and know you have improved communication between you and your loved one? Or do you wave your arms in the air and cry, 'Everything!'? Or somewhere in the middle with, 'How many times do I have to tell you?'

I think it depends how often you have explained yourself or even how well the other person has seemed to understand, before today, when it seems they never understood at all.

Why is it so hard for other people to remember what we tell them? And know that what we say about school also applies to work, that talking to your cousin is just as hard as talking to your best beloved? That it doesn't matter what the challenge is, today it is hard even if yesterday we could do it.

The times I have explained myself, those conversations where I put the words together in the right way and they came out when they should and it all made beautiful, perfect sense: those times when you think, I have brought it to life, how I feel and think and someone else knows and they care about me.

Then the inevitable moment when you trip and that look passes over their face, the one that speaks of exasperation and the inexpressible impatience that you tripped, again, over the very thing they warned you about and which you have avoided successfully the last twenty times.

Perhaps they don't ask you why you tripped or say anything at all about your mistake, but often they do. It comes out quickly and naturally.

'I did warn you about the trip.'
'Didn't you see it coming?'
'Don't you remember tripping the last time?'
'I thought you had managed not to trip?'
'I thought you had learned to lift your feet?'
'Why do you always have to trip?!'

I trip because I'm looking at some other place within or another challenge without. I trip because my feet are a long way from the rest of me, like real-life is a long way from my own wonderful, chaotic, creative internal lands. I trip because life is like that.

I tripped because you forgot I was an aspie and let go of me, just when I needed you most.

I tripped and I saw your face and the face of every other person whose expression changed when I messed up in the same way, over the same thing and then felt upset all over again.

What's so hard about Aspergers? It's possibly that every challenge feels different, even when we know it is the same. And because it is different, we are unsure how to deal with it.

Even so, the hardest thing about Aspergers is other people. For all the trips and falls in the world, they are made worse by the person close to you shaking their head and wondering at your ability to be yourself, again and again.

Yes, I did see it coming and then I looked at the heavens and forgot the earth. And I tripped but I did not fall.


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Walking in the dying sun

In a few moments, I have to go upstairs and find some way of disconnecting RT Teen from the computer. It's a tricky procedure involving distraction and bribery dressed as encouragement. Like a sad little flower at the back of the room, RT needs to feel the sun on his face and top up on his non-vampiric vitamins.

I know he's done some writing today and I also know he has made amazing progress with his spectacularly creatively mathematical mega-structure on Minecraft.  It's just that every time I walk in the room he's playing some strange cookie game. And I mean an actual cookie game, with a giant choc-chip cookie on the screen, not some weird hybrid of those internet sprites meant to make our lives easier.

If I was able to go in, unseen, he would be sitting there, his face alight in happiness and his body glowing gently in sympathy with the screen. And he would be socialising.

This is what happens whenever I try to get him off the computer. I know he's been working, Minecraft or otherwise. I also know he's been gaming, cookies or otherwise. But when I go up to detach him from the tech, his American friend will have come online and they'll be chatting.

There is some tech-connection charm which is activated by online chatting. When the chatting begins, all other pursuits are put on hold and I am barely even allowed to look at him. It is paramount that he not leave the computer, though he seems able to chat and still play games. He must stay where he is because their time-lines have coincided and they are communicating across the waters.

No matter that the sun is going down, or the dog is dancing. The fact that he has sat there for a full day means nothing. Neither does that ache in his mouse hand or the weird dryness in his throat which will eventually turn out to be thirst.

It is chat time and America is online, or at least the very particular part of it which shares exactly the same interests as RT Teen.

If I was a non-aspie mother, I would rail at RT and explain about the sunshine and the exercise and the fresh air (don't we all remember the lectures about fresh air?). I would insist he comes off and tell him he can chat to his friend another day. I would make sure he ate and drank away from the computer and did Other Stuff with his day.

I would not go up, see his happy face and leave him for another half an hour. I wouldn't feel ever so gently jealous that I didn't have the internet when I was growing up. I wouldn't go back downstairs and dance with the dog awhile, before going online to find out how much time before the sun goes down.

The aspie life isn't always complicated. Sometimes it is as simple as the hours spent in happy pursuits, the kind of activities which don't have to be what the majority think are good for us.

Readers, I know vitamin D is very important and so, apparently, is fresh air though it was never explained why. It's just that friends and play and contentment aren't always found in a bracing wind or a dying sun. Sometimes they are right here, at home, just on the other side of the water.


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Manic Optimism

I never understood people who talked about doing something and then, well, talked about it some more. How long does the talking stage go on if someone really wants to act? How long is it before plans become events?

I know there are lots of people less hasty than me. They plan things out, think it all through, consult sensible others and make real strategies for success which have nothing to do with my manically scribbled notes in many notebooks. These are the ones who know before starting if their plan has a chance of success.

Then there are the ones who do all of this and make the right noises but never seem to get off the ground. They haven't discovered the plan is unworkable or even very risky, they just don't move. The next time you see them and bring up the grand scheme, they are pleased to talk about it but the conversation is either a re-hash of the last time you met or it's yet another nuance of the scheme they need to iron out.

They are the careful ones, the ones so very careful they rarely do anything. This is a shame because many of their plans are great and I'd be happy to dive right in and help.

Except that I'd be happy to dive right into the lava flow if you told me the suit would hold. And I'd be the one diving into the shark pool, if you said being dressed like a shark would keep me safe. Diving into tricky but exciting scenarios is one of my favourite things.

I love the exhilaration that comes from hoping and feeling a plan will succeed and diving in to see if I'm right. There is nothing quite like the swoosh of warm air as you sail through the atmosphere, hoping it will be a soft landing. Having visualised the soft landing, it is almost a truth it will come to pass.

The planners know a soft landing should be built into the plans and the careful ones know that they're not silly enough to dive into anything, not with a family, house, pets, retirement plan and good causes to think about. The only one diving in is me, whizzing past with a superbly-optimistic grin on my face, just knowing it's all going to be fine.

If anyone lacks confidence in their plans they can come to me and have them shored up for free. I can tell them how it will succeed, give them extra ideas to make sure it does and dive right in, to encourage them onward.

The careful ones better watch out as even with their determination to act only when the earth collides with the sun, I have been known to make the most stolid, reliable person jump before they were ready.

And then my own plans: diving in is happening even as I am planning. A vague idea, drawn with the end of a matchstick, is enough to have me in motion. I can sort out the rest on the way. No matter if it is a short trip to the ground and the rough or soft landing, on the way is all the time I need to fine-tune the details. Trust me!

I should add that despite this maniacal need for action, I do try to learn from my mistakes (it would be super-human of me to ignore my mistakes as there are so many of them). So even though I'm diving in, I do look around to see if there is anything familiar that can go wrong. This knowledge of past pitfalls is what can make me so useful to other planners as I know what can go wrong. It's a pity it never stops me trying again though.

Diving in, over and over, is a stalwart part of my aspie life. Optimism is under-rated: it keeps you young in mind, if light in wallet. It means you are always ready to try new things and have the confidence to make them work, no matter what, right up until something better comes along.

Here it is, readers, the recipe for an exciting life. All you need is a short plan and a platform to dive from, then you are all set. No, don't wait until you find something suitable to dive from. Look here, I have this box you can use. Just make room for me beside you. Now, don't Blogger is a free blog-publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.be shy, just jump!



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