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Showing posts from October, 2014

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…

That's not the way you feel. Turning off the outer voices.

Harsh experience is one teacher; self-belief is another. And somewhere in between fall other people and what they have to teach us about ourselves.

A good friend can stop a meltdown in its tracks and make you feel it's worthwhile to get up and try again. Never underestimate the power of someone else's faith in you and their ability to help you when you need it most, and in the small things scattered along the way.

And still, I have to say, also be aware of people who do less to help, who speak of our difficulties and triumphs in terms of what they think and feel, and not because of what we need. They can be right alongside the calm voices and also sound calm. They can be on the phone right after the soft words and their words sound soft.

Soft words, though, they are spoken softly - we should be aware of what is said in that voice, the one which sounds like it has our best interests at heart. The difference is in the words used and how they make us feel, rather than in the ton…

How do I really feel? Turning off the inner voices.

Sometimes words are difficult to find, especially when it comes to explaining how you feel. And sometimes, the feeling comes before - and rises above - the words.

I am very guilty of listening to my internal voices, most of them critical. I let them through when I have an idea or make an assertion about myself. I just want to be my own sounding board but I end up criticising myself without being aware of it..

An easy example would be that my hair was looking nice this week. My first thought was to remind myself if I used good quality shampoo, it would always look nice. If I took more time to get ready, it would always look better. If I just generally cared more about my outer appearance, then having nice hair wouldn't be rare.

Do you see it? A flood of little barbs, all aimed at myself. I realised I was far too ready to accept these as truth: I immediately portrayed myself as a lazy woman who wasn't willing to spend time on her appearance. In reality, I am always careful with…

You can behave if you really try!

In the minds of unenlightened people, all that children on the autistic spectrum need is clear guidance, given in uncompromising tones and with no room for naughty behaviour. As children we are trained to behave well and treat others with respect so when a child cannot do that, they are often treated as if they will not.

This is so far removed from the truth it would be laughable if it wasn't so sad. Would you chastise a deaf person for not trying hard enough to hear? What if they tried a little bit harder? Wouldn't they like to fit in with the other, hearing children? Would they not like to spend their days listening instead of causing all kinds of problems by not being able to listen?

If someone tries really hard and puts all their effort into it and follows all the instructions given by these genius-level educators, then well, actually, that person will still not be able to hear if they are deaf to begin with. It's a strange aspect of nature that if a creature has not …

I see an aspie in the distance

Aspie-dar doesn't just work when you meet someone: hearing about a person second-hand can also send a ping on the radar. It seems that even at a distance, Aspergers is recognisable.

IT's girlfriend, IT Girl, is on a new course at college (go on, guess what she's studying). She's the only girl and seems to be surrounded by, well, what looked like a group of mild-mannered students with a penchant for check shirts, faded jeans and bags large enough to fit a laptop. She gets on well with her group, she's made friends with almost all of them but she keeps coming home with talk of Tony.

Tony is loud, you know. IT Girl and her posse will be having a nice conversation about the elemental nature of gaming tech and in barges Tony with a joke about chickens. He hangs about on the outskirts of groups and makes comments at inappropriate moments.

He's just plain rude. He walks through doorways and holds the door open long enough to let himself through safely then leaves it …