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Christmas Number Twos...or how to manage Christmas a little differently.

One of the difficult, unrelenting things about Christmas is that it only comes once a year, so if it doesn't go well, or well enough, you're left until the next time to make it right.

First, it's debatable whether trying to make it right is even worthwhile. Surely we should just be enjoying the day as we see fit and not trying to make it into something gloriously wonderful, as per the latest made-for-tv-movie showing on the backburner channels.

Christmas should be what you want and maybe sometimes what you actually get instead of what you think it should be.

Having said all that, after spending this Christmas in a paroxysm of discomfort and emotional fatigue, I felt particularly cheated. It is my favourite holiday! The thought of waiting a full year and hoping that chance might throw me a decent Christmas just seemed so...harsh.

That was when it hit me. I looked at our two little trees, bought in a fit of inspiration when the massively big one looked too unwieldy and I th…

Do not behave like an aspie on Christmas Day

Christmas Day Meltdowns are unacceptable.

Do what you like, the rest of the year, you awkward, noisy, silent, clumsy aspie, but not at Christmas.

At Christmas, we behave like decent human beings. We pay out lots of money to make people happy and we put down an awful lot of time and effort in making everything look right. Most importantly, we pull out every stop to make it run like clockwork.

Clockwork runnings do not happen when someone older than 5 has a meltdown. Even the under 5s are greatly discouraged from acting like spoilt brats at this time of the year, so don't for the life of you think that you can aspify this Christmas Day!

...
And there it is, the unwritten, mostly unspoken ultimatum: do not behave like an aspie on Christmas Day.
The expectation that if you try hard enough, your Aspergers will be held in check, like a headstrong mule trying to get through the grocery store door. If you try, you can stop it. It's only a door and it's only a mule.
Except the ana…

How do you feel your feelings?

How on earth are you supposed to figure out what an aspie is feeling? What if they won't or can't tell you? What if they tell you everything is fine and then act like a monster - and still say they're fine?

There's often a disconnect between aspie feelings and aspie brain: your aspie knows they have a situation which requires feelings but the feelings don't seem to be there. Instead of experiencing the feelings and talking about them, your aspie is more likely to have the feelings independently, almost as if they happen to someone else.

"Yes, yes, of course there is a reason to be upset but just let me get on with my reading, will you? Yes, I'm fine!"

And then later, when the tin opener breaks and they cannot have special chicken-inna-tin pie for supper, voices will be raised, hands flailed, tears fall and those pent up feelings will come rushing in for something as stupidly simple and unimportant as a trapped pie.

The other situation, the really imp…

How to give your aspie a quiet Christmas

How on earth do you get it through to family and friends how to treat your aspie at Christmas time? The time of good cheer and all things sociable is a nightmare not waiting to happen but which happens in real time for at least the next two weeks. And that includes those of us who like the season.

So what do you tell people? How do you tell them. Let me count the ways.

Please note Avoid the obvious tactic of painting a great big sign and sticking it outside your front door with your direction of choice written on it. If you want to do that, go ahead, but your family will still knock on the door and say,

'Did you know you have a sign saying Piss Off at your front door? You did? Oh, well, I guess it wasn't meant for me.'

With that in mind... It's a simple method and it's mainly in the execution (no, not that kind of execution).

1. Tell people to stay away.

Yes, stay away. Right away. Presents? Post them. Cards? Made for posting, damn it. Too late to post? We don'…

A very aspie Christmas

'Come in! Come in! and know me better, man!' said the Ghost of Christmas Present.

And there, summarised by the spirit who wishes to enliven and embolden the hearts of all mankind we have the reasons most aspies hide from Christmas: we do not want to come in and we do not want you to come in and we really, truly, do not want to know you better.

Well, maybe at another time of the year, but at Christmas any comings and goings are likely to be from one safe place to another, with quick trips for absolutely unavoidable human conflict mixed in. And I actually love Christmas!

At least, I love the lights and the decorations and the cold, dark outside comparing with the warm gold of the inside. All that other stuff, where you get together with other human beings and are much more social than any other time, it galls me.

At Christmas we all love each other and our hearts warm up in ways we don't manage the rest of the year. We pat small children on the head and listen to their tale…

What we see by the light of logic.

When we feel we have no control, there is a helplessness born of terror. How can the world be a safe place if we are powerless? How can we step safely if the way is strewn with dangers? What are we meant to do to stay safe if other people seem to lead us constantly into cold, hard paths with no sunlight above?

At the age of 7, I walked into school with a box of matches and a plan: I would stop the bullying and the never-ending stream of fear by making the school go away. I was calm and I knew it would work.

I never meant to hurt anyone (and no one was hurt). I planned it so that the children would be out in the playground. I thought that meant the building was empty.

In the end, I burnt a poster and the edge of some books. And, finally, people took notice of me, but for all the wrong reasons.

I had no control over going to school and, after telling everyone about the bullying and nothing being done, I knew it was up to me to stop it. It seemed logical that with the school gone, I wou…

The long road to new shoes.

It's safe to say that many aspies get overly attached to certain items of clothing. They may not be beautiful shimmering garlands of fancy, but those favourite clothes will be worn and better worn until they fall to pieces or are stolen by well-meaning do-gooders who want to deny you any happiness whatsoever.

And then, damn it, you have to go shopping for new ones. Do these people have no souls?

As it turned out, I was one of these soulless demons when RT Teen's shoes breathed their last.

They've been sporting a hole for about six months. I lose track, it might have been nine months. I know that RT has been wary of puddles for quite a while and ran when it rained.

They lifted at the front in that peculiar way old shoes have where they start to look like they might sit and beg as you walk past. Also, they had A Smell lingering about them. You know what I mean.

They changed colour after the first few months of life and became a nondescript browny-grey beloved of elderly foo…

How to deal with an aspie in a mood

I'm sure you know what to do when your aspie is in a mood. Yes, leave them alone but also be there when they come out of the mood and need you again. Simple.

But when friends and family hear about the mood they cannot help themselves: the advice comes, the super-knowledge borne from lots of experience with non-aspie people. The ability to see past everything you know to what they think is true.

So, with that in mind, here is a helpful list to pass on to these would-be mood-breakers.

How to deal with an aspie in a mood. Tell them to snap out of it. Go on, I dare you. I'm just going to be over here by the fridge, pretending I'm not with you.

Did it work? No, um. Well, how about not telling them to snap out of it? Maybe ask if you can help instead? Or just come over here by the fridge.

Ask them what is wrong. and don't stop asking until they tell you.

Well, this is bound to work. I mean, if you find out what is wrong, then you can fix it, right? Or you can tell them they…

Just to be clear...is this bullying?

I have a situation, or at least RT Teen does. It's a real-life, right here and now situation, so I must be careful what I say, but...

He has a new tutor at college, someone with less experience than the others and who seems to have taken an instant misunderstanding towards RT. Notice I don't say dislike: I can't say dislike, as I'm not in the classroom and can only judge on what I've heard.

As far as I know, this tutor is a very, um, easily swayed type who finds it difficult to keep order with students sometimes. This seems to have driven him to try to assert himself by being more domineering. The other students in RT's class appear to be ignoring this but RT is being driven mad by it.

RT is quite placid normally. It's me who gets aeriated by things, people, irritations, everything really. He tends to sail through and has stress from typical aspie triggers but is generally accepting of other people and able to get along with them.

Then came the new tutor.

The friend who just doesn't get you. Ever.

Sometimes people are honest if they don't like you. If you are lucky, they come right up and tell you they don't like you. This is good, honestly, because it saves you ever having to care what they think and you can just delete them from your inventory.

Other people do not like you at all but they continue to act like a normal human being to your face, leaving you either with the feeling you are imagining a strange atmosphere or, far worse, imagining you have a friend.

Others do not get you. They want to, they do, because people they value like you and talk about you in glowing terms, so they want to find out why their friends are your friends. Your conversations will be peppered with thoughtful pauses, confused looks, unspoken questions, misunderstood questions and, the summation of someone who doesn't get you, the open mouth.

I like the spirit of the people who don't get me but try. I appreciate their effort and faith in their friend's choices. But really, if yo…

You're special, yes you are.

I don't mind people being kind to me. It's nice to be treated well, isn't it? To have someone think of you and sometimes do things for you that you might find difficult.

I don't mind when people are grumpy so-and-sos either, as long as they are like that with everyone and haven't just decided to make my life cloudy and grey. The grumpiest of people can become a good friend, to the point that you no longer see the grump and only the friend.

I do mind being treated as if I'm Special. You notice the capital there. Not special, you see. Not like a person who might be showered with gifts, boxes of choccies, small dogs in  hand baskets or guinea pigs in bandannas. Special...

Special like Aunty Millicent when she couldn't be trusted near the Tesco trolleys anymore. Special like that little dog down the road who thinks all other dogs are space aliens coming for it. Special like that old pair of shoes you refuse to get rid of even though they let in at the heels an…

Facing the Clown

Firstly, I've been asked by Mumsnet to speak at their blogging event, Blogfest, in London this November. That is rather amazing, folks, especially given the quality of their guest speakers (and obviously the quality of their audience of fellow bloggers).

http://www.mumsnet.com/events/blogfest/2014

Right, that's the good news. The bad news?

I have a fear of travelling long distances and a wonderful ability to get lost. I have a fear of people, especially large groups of people and public speaking has a tendency to bring out the worst or the best in me, without any warning of which way I will swing until it's too late.

I have a fear of being lost in London, wandering the streets and finally being snapped on my way into the wrong door, as burly security guards descend on me.

I have a fear of getting there and not knowing where to go or what to do and making it into the event but ending up under the stage somehow.

I have a fear, readers, a specific fear for each part of this …

How to deal with an aspie meltdown

How do you deal with an aspie in  meltdown? I deal with it very badly, even though I'm on both sides of the fence. When I'm in full lava flow down the hill myself, I'm in no mood to be dealt with at all; but when RT Teen is being the lava, I feel like I should fix it.

Even knowing how he is feeling and how supremely, outrageously aggravating the whole world has suddenly become, I still tip-toe in and try to help. I poke him with verbal offers of help, I reach out a hand (I must be insane) and try to give him a comforting pat. I talk to him from a distance, hoping logic will prevail (you can guess the result).

I don't do this to make it all worse, though I know it might. I risk making it all worse to make it better. And sometimes it does help, just not very often. But there is that magical moment where you can stop the meltdown before the volcano has done more than choke out a few smoke sobs and done a bit of lava-spitting.

When RT Teen has a meltdown these days it is …

Conversation Code

Category: Conversation

Sub-Category: Small talk/gossip

Subject: Mrs Neighbour and her front garden

Response Required? Y/N

...

N

Change subject? Y/N

Y

Y...Y

Change subject? Y/N

(hammers internal keyboard) YYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Subject: Mrs Neighbour and her front garden (continued)

Response Required? Y/N

Y

(respond that if front garden such an issue why not finally confront Mrs Neighbour and solve issue)

Interruption in conversation - restart? Y/N

Y

Subject changed: Successful installation new software patch

Interruption in conversation, error code 33anger2

Subject changed: Mrs Neighbour and her front garden (restart)

Response required? Y/N

...N...

Response request: (empty file)

Response request: (corrupted file)

Response request: (there was a problem opening this file)

Change subject? Y/N

Y

Y (please)

Subject changed: Successful transmittance of relationship advice to new friend

Subject interruption: Broken message, garden, neighbour

Would you like to quit this conversation? Y/N

Y

Are you s…

The Disgruntled Aspie

It stands, like a disgruntled bull at the farm gate, watching you as you cross the kitchen. You are followed, the angry eyeballs moving only to track your progress as you tip-toe past on the way to the bread.

'Would you like a sandwich?' you ask, your voice an imitation of innocence. You know your aspie won't have a sandwich, it's the wrong bread, but you pretend not to know and ask anyway, just to break the thunderous silence.

The silence holds, then an exhalation like hornets exiting stage left as your aspie loses the fight between frozen anger and needing to answer a question when it is asked.

'No,' they manage, breathing in, then out, then failing once more to resist routine, 'thank you,' they add, angrier with themselves now as well as you.

You make the sandwich, very conscious of the laser-beam gaze fixed on your back. In trying to pretend normality, you hum a little tune, like you do when you are on your own in the kitchen. Big mistake.

'Sto…

Once more, with feeling.

'Do you like it?'

Some bright and wonderful thing is held before my eyes and I take in the iridescent gleam of light bouncing off its surfaces. My eyes sparkle in reflected beauty and my mouth opens to praise it in all its magical glory.





'Hmm, it's nice,' I say, 'I like the sparkles and stuff.'

The gaudy treasure is replaced as my less-than-enthusiastic response renders it unworthy. We move on with me giving backward glances to the beautiful thing and wondering why it remains unbought.

I said it was nice and I said I liked the sparkles but if my opinion was really needed, perhaps it would have been better to pass me a pen and paper instead of asking me to speak my thoughts.

I can love something and sound lacklustre; I can adore and covet a glorious object and only be able to stand, holding it this way and that, revelling in how I feel about it without expressing myself.

And then I can love something and go on about it so fulsomely and endlessly that the ot…