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Showing posts from 2015

and then there's Anxiety

Anxiety is like living next to a busy road and feeling responsibility for every car that goes past, even though you know each and every one is driven by someone else.

Somehow you can't stop listening. You are at home, the car is separate, the driver is separate: you are unlikely ever to meet and could pass them in the street without knowing. And still, here you are, paused in mid-step, face turned partly to the door, trying not to, trying to walk on, facing the noise.

You are inside your house and safe, yet you strain to hear the cars as they turn the corner at the end of the road. Your senses are acutely aware of the tyres squealing when this other driver decides to set off too quickly or speed. You know there is a tricky turn further down the next road and you hear more squealing as the brakes are applied.

and in your mind's eye

is every turn that can be made and each little danger just ahead of it
and then every big danger that exists in the worlds of 
Might Be or Conseque…

I'm sorry that you're sad

I'm sorry I didn't realise you were sad. It's not that I don't care or that you hid it too well; it's more because it is your sadness instead of mine, so I missed it.

I'm sorry I didn't realise the shape of your face had altered in those subtle, tangible ways which mean you have been crying and are hiding it. I didn't see your tears so I didn't see you had been crying and I even shared a joke with you. I didn't realise you could be sad and still share a joke.

I'm sorry I didn't notice your whole life fell apart while I passed you by. I did notice you passing by, I did think how pale you were and how focused on the road ahead. I just thought you were going somewhere very important, I didn't think you might feel like your journey had ended.

I'm sorry I didn't know you well enough to be able to put out my hand without having to say anything. I'm really sorry I still don't know you well enough to come round with biscuits…

Becoming the aspie

I stretch out my little red legs across the car seat, smooth my patterned skirt and prepare to take another selfie for Facebook. This is one of those moments when even I can see my outfit is Not Normal. Instead of wondering if I should change, I hurry to take a picture while the sun is out and reflecting off the red tights.

In days gone by, I might have changed; or more likely I would have worried, but not changed, the small amount of bravery I had making me stick my nose up at the world and carry on. These days, I put on the tights and clatter out of the house and only wonder if the selfie of my legs should be done in the car or the garden.

Years ago, when I was trying and failing to fit in at school, I wore brightly-coloured clothes which seemed to clash. I say seemed because to me each outfit made sense, each colour choice carefully matched with something else I was wearing. My shoes matched a tone in my jacket, my socks blended with my blouse, my glasses kachinged with my trouser…

Going Full Aspie

I've failed miserably at being normal this week. It's as if the controls I've had in place broke just a little last week, then this week, as soon as I tried to use them, they fell apart in my hands. With no time to make more and no chance to calm down, I started jogging along and haven't stopped since.

Super-busy with my tuition, I've dashed about meeting new students and almost-new ones. Usually I come across as eccentric but okay: you know, eccentric in a good way (I hope) but still able to show children how to do their school work. Then this week the eccentric side took over and I've been running to keep ahead of it without realising it was already in front and waiting round the corner.

The control to stop me over-talking has gone - I think I heard a clunk as it hit the floor and rolled away. Wow, conversation anybody? No, me neither, you can just listen to me have enough conversation for both of us!

Desperately trying to make the best of over-talking, I fi…

Don't be so eager to please

Apparently girly aspies are far too eager to please. From nursery through to marriage, we're the ones who hide our difficulties behind a veil of smiles and trying-too-hards. We're the girls who slot in where everyone else would like us to be and this eagerness to make ourselves good and true and kind and perfect is what is supposed to mask our Aspergers.

Well, let's ignore for a moment the absolutely abhorrent message buried in a shallow grave in this whole scenario - that to be a girl is to be a creature made to please everyone else, no matter who this mass of everyone else might be - and move onto the masking.

So, you have Aspergers and you are a small child of 4. As a girl aspie you have a super-power: you have the ability to run into your school years without anyone knowing you are on the spectrum. From the age when children still have trouble holding a pencil or tying their shoelaces, us girls are able to not only mask our needs well enough to fool a whole world, we …

Forgive me if I seem to stare...

Forgive me if I seem to stare but what you don't understand is that Other People, this tribe so different from how I feel, are endlessly fascinating to me. You may think you are ordinary, even a little dull, but to me you are better than an afternoon at the museum.

Other People are like education but with ice cream, learning the fun stuff like what they do when they argue (in public! joy!), or how they raise their kids or what they think is a good idea for tea. I like to see the way their face changes when something annoys or amuses them, I like to watch them as they think to themselves and don't know anyone sees.

Yes, it is creepy, I am creepy, but then so is the whole world. At least I am honest when I say I watch you and, take this as a compliment, I learn how you behave so I can behave also.

This is a good thing. To learn to pass along the street and not worry the people going by, to behave as those around me behave so that, in life, I can be friends with them and move th…

Why I'm still saying No.

"I've got too much on," I explain. Or at least I think that explains it.

There is a moment of considered silence, the kind where you know the other person is deciding whether to say what they think or let you away with it - again.

"Like what?" they ask, obviously determined to pin you down.

"Well, I had that thing last week," I say, waving my hand at the event which I spent 4 weeks building up to and am still coming down from on the other side.

Their face twitches like a fly landed on their cheek, except there is no fly. The fly is me, the one in the ointment, in the doorway, in the line of sight. That fly buzzing around, the one they need to keep in one place long enough so they can -

"You can still come," a sideways triumphant gleam. "That thing was last week, it's been eight days, you're not too busy!" Done, dusted, you're coming. Right?

"No!" I refuse, not even knowing how else to refuse than saying No. I…

Is it bad to feel Special?

You know how you try not to be that kind of special? It's not that you want to be normal but being able to pass for normal usually makes life so much easier.

Far, far easier to stifle down your meltdown than run out crying and slapping the doors until they open; better to keep quiet than give in to the little voice in your head that desperately wants to tell Dave about his hair; terrible to find yourself making That Face because Liz has started explaining Windows to you again; awful to realise you have been making your own repetitive noise for the last five minutes to drown out the noise of your co-workers talking.

Yes, being that kind of special is for when you can't help it - as long as you can help it, you tend to keep it under wraps until you're somewhere safe. Then, like a tight belt, it can all hang out and you collapse and forget the rest of the world.

How galling then, to find myself having to pass for normal lately and need to put up with people discussing RT Tee…

The Myth of the Broken Face

The blank stare, stony-faced, unwelcoming, generally frozen expression is one of those 'clues' we hear about when it comes to spotting the aspie among us. You know them by the face that doesn't change to suit the situation, by the monotone voice and so on.

Yes, when it comes to society you can spot aspies really easily because they're the ones mimicking automatons. No need for I-Robot or even good old Robbie, you have your aspie to do the unfinished humanoid for you. (You do hear the sarcasm, right?)

Is this true? Sometimes, maybe. It's true if we're bored that we might switch off and unlike the more socially worried, switching off is taken seriously. So the blank face appears as you talk and, dimly, we wait to switch back on again when you've finished.

And the monotone voice? Hmm, I suppose it's also true that my voice might take on a level quality if the rest of me is struggling like a cat in a harness to figure out what to say next, when to say it, …

Apparently there'll be hugging...

You know when you look back over those job interviews where everything you did or said seemed to come out wrong and you may as well have screamed across the table, 'Don't hire me! Are you insane? I would be TERRIBLE at this job!'?

And then the ones where you managed to pass yourself off as the perfect employee, said the right things and knew what they wanted to know? (We won't mention what happened once you started the job and had to repeat all this success on a daily basis).

When it comes to the workplace, most aspies have an eccentric approach to job hunting. The systems in place do not favour those of us who like to say exactly what we mean; they favour people who think first, weigh up the options, know the right phrases.

When a potential employer asks what you'll be bringing to their company, having resisted the urge to tell them you'll be bringing a packed lunch, you also have not to tell them how much better everything will be once you've sorted out …

I love you, cubicles!

Where would I be without the humble cubicle? Be it toilet or changing cubicle, this simple cuboid with ill-fitting door and essential locking mechanism is often all that stands between me and a screaming exit.

The times I have sat there on the toilet seat, resting my head in my hands as I wonder how on earth I am ever going to be able to unlock the door and go back to the throng. Or in the shop, aware of the brief but blessed interlude to be had from pretending to try on clothes so I can avoid People.

Toilets are always better. You definitely have a lockable door and people don't like to ask why you took so long. Also they are sweetly anonymous so that anyone coming in and out of the main room has no idea who you are, whereas changing rooms tend to be patrolled a little better, in case you are stealing something or have died, mid-pants-leg-change.

Oh toilets, how I love them! Besides their obvious use, they are so full of the promise of solitude, of beneficial and chosen isolatio…

Who needs tact when you have over-sharing?

What is this mysteriously magical pull between my brain and someone I barely know? Why do I feel the need to bridge the gap by telling them something they never expected? And why do I always share things you're supposed to keep to yourself?

Yes, those times when normal chit-chat would do but I fill it with nuggets from my life, hard, gold, treasure-finds that leave people at a loss for words - which then leaves another hole in the conversation for me to fill with something else.

It's as if one piece of information, unasked for but wholly perfect for the moment it pops into my brain, then opens the door for all the others. As if one metaphorical cat, instead of running into the garden, turns round and opens the door wide for the rest of the cats to pour through.

All I had to do was fill in one simple piece of conversational by-the-by. There was no invitation to share (whoever really needed one?), there was no suitable opening only the size and shape of that one share: I could …

Are you feeling blue today?

Sometimes it's hard to be an adult. All that to-ing and fro-ing in the real world takes its toll. One minute, blindly rushing along the great path of life, the next huddled to the side, wrapped in your blanket, watching all the proper grown-ups go by.

Just so: one moment a person who does, the next a person who does not.

And, to make life extra creative, the does and does not can be as simple as not wanting to be somewhere or leaving a whole portion of your life behind because it can't be done anymore.

This can be the very hardest of things to explain to people who are not on the spectrum, that what you did today might not be done tomorrow. How can you explain that this person in front of them, same-faced, same-voiced, same-souled, can react so differently from one moment to the next?

I used to read a series of books when I was very small, where the people in the town were divided according to the colour of their hats. For some reason I liked these books, I liked what seemed …