The Little Group of Autism

If you have read by blog before you might know that In 2013 I was diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum. As far as I knew at the time I was the only person out of my friends & family that was autistic.

As I didn’t know anyone else with this condition I felt very isolated & lost. I spent ages looking for others like me. I managed to find Facebook groups on the subject & ended up making some great new friends. These friends have really helped me along the way & have given me confidence to be just be me. I also discovered that my friend Claire is autistic. She had made her own group called ‘My Kind of People’ & that inspired me to make a group for myself.

I started my group on Thursday 10th October to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Day. it’s called ‘The Little Group of Autism.’ It’s a group just for people on the Autistic Spectrum.

I don’t want it to be big group. I just wanted a place where people can really get to know each other, because sometimes in larger groups your voice can get lost or drowned out by others. You are also more likely to clash with others in larger groups. I’m hoping that won’t be the case here.

One of the happiest moments since making the group was having the creator of one of my favourite web comics ‘Aspie-rations’ Theresa Scovil-Hertwig join. If you have not read her comic before go check it out!

Anyway, I wasn’t going to post about my group on my blog but then I thought someone reading this might be on the spectrum too.

If that is the case then maybe you are looking to find more people like you.

So if you are reading this & are on the spectrum maybe my group or one of the others might be for you.

I know I’ve basically made an echo chamber but sometimes an echo chamber is what you need…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/469990823594514/

Little Group of Autism

Guess who’s back?

It’s me.

Hello. So it’s been around three years since I last posted. I have totally lost the knack of writing – that’s if I ever had a knack at all. Basically I wanted to write again because recently I have felt the need to reach out to others more. Try and be more open and not hide myself away.

As you can probably tell a lot has happened in the last 3 years.

So what have I been up to? That’s always a difficult question for me to answer, as I always just say “Not much. You know the same old, same old.” This is because I’m terrible at small talk. It always seem to be at the end of the conversation that I then suddenly remember that I do have something to say. So what are those things,

I now have two children, with the eldest now starting school, and the youngest turning 2 in October. I love my boys so much. I didn’t think I would be able to cope with being a father but even though it can be a struggle at times I wouldn’t change things for the world. The two of them are special. I know everyone says that about their own children, but these two are awesome. Firstly they were born a day before our birthdays. The eldest being born a day before my wife’s birthday and the youngest being born the day before mine. I am always impressed how easily they can understand things, and how they can brighten my mood with a smile.

I have been coming to terms with being on the autistic spectrum, and embracing my differences more. I have been more open to talk about the condition, I even set up a Autism Awareness training day at work.

I have returned to social media and have joined a few Facebook groups for autistic people, and have set up a group chat so I can talk to others. I have yet to embrace Twitter again. I’m not sure that I will. With Twitter the magic of the early days are gone. I also don’t think I have the energy to post short random updates anymore. Saying that I don’t know how often I will post on this blog either. I do want to post ’42 things about being forty two’ while I’m still 42. I have to get a few Douglas Adams references in there somewhere.

So that’s really it for now.

P.S I’m now on level 39 of Pokemon Go.

Am I a good man?

feelingsAnxiety levels are pretty high at the moment. Well I think it’s anxiety, it’s hard to tell? I have this feeling in my chest that’s warm but has a hole in it. A twisted empty space that might implode. Is that anxiety? Who knows? Emotions are funny things that don’t always make sense. Why do some people cry when they are happy? Why do some people hurt the ones they love? I have a hard time understanding.

When I am in emotional turmoil and I am trying to make sense of these feelings I can’t help but think about Doctor Who and what happens to The Doctor when he regenerates. Not only does his physical appreance change but his personality changes too. One of the best examples of this was the change from the 11th Doctor to the 12th. The 12th Doctor found himself asking his companion “Am I a good man?”.

It’s questions like this that I am always asking myself. We always like to think of ourselves as the hero. We are fair and just. If we saw someone in distress we would be there to help. However I don’t really see myself as that person. I sometimes find it hard to care and feel empathy. At times I feel like I have a dark passenger like in Dexter. My dark passenger is not a killer, just a side of me which has no compassion, no feelings, no nothing, just empty. My dark passenger really doesn’t care. He is selfish and antisocial. He is everything I hate about myself.

Most of the time I have control of the negative emotions, I ignore my dark passenger. I have the strength to be kind, caring and compassionate. But as time goes by I get the feeling that I am being false and I am aware that I am faking a smile. That’s when my dark passenger wins. He has tricked me into thinking that I was in control when it was really him all along. Other times I don’t fight it and I wallow in the emptiness. It is a constant internal struggle. Is my dark passager the true me? Am I evil, or am I really a good man?

Lost.

I feel a bit lost at the moment, actually lost is a very good word to use; 

lost/lɒst/

adjective1. Unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts.

1.1 Unable to be found.

1.2 [predicative] Unable to understand or to cope  with a situation.

2. That has been taken away or cannot be recovered.

2.1 (Of time or an opportunity) not used advantageously; wasted.

2.2 Having died or been destroyed.

 I am lost. I don’t really know what I am doing or where I am going. My thoughts and emotions seem scrambled. I am not good with emotions. I have a problem reading them in others and I have a problem understanding them in myself. I have lost my confidence. I feel self-destructive and paranoid. I don’t trust myself. I am a confused mess so apologies if this post doesn’t make sense. So… Where to start? How do I put across to you how I feel and what’s going on in my head without just making short statements and sentences? Why do I feel so lost? Who knows? My subconscious must hate me. Saying that there has been a lot of things going on in my life at the moment which has affected my mental state. I recently bought a house, I’ve been promoted at work, my grandmother died, and my wife is having a baby…. So yeah, I guess I do have a reason to feel a bit lost at the moment. Lots of changes are happening and it’s messing with my mind, heart and soul. I don’t know how to express these feelings and who to express them too. Since cutting myself off from most of the internet I don’t know who to talk to, or what to say.I was having a conversation with some friends the other day about how I find it hard to talk to people. I know it’s not just me. Everyone seems to have this problem. You want to talk to someone but you don’t want to be a burden. Your friends say they are there for you whenever you need them, but what if it’s four in the morning? What if they are out with friends? No one really knows when it is and isn’t a good time to call. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to a friend. Friends can lie. Friends will say things just to make you feel better rather than be honest and tell you the truth. You want to talk to a stranger who is out of the loop. Sometimes you want advice, sometimes you don’t want advice and you just want to off load. You just want someone who will listen.

The solution for this would be a mobile phone app. The app would collect the contacts on your phone and connect you to all other people with the app. When you need someone to talk to you just tap the app. It would then flag your name to everyone on your contacts and alert all other users of the app. everyone will see that you need someone to talk to. Once you have a connection the app will remove the flag against your name until you tap the app again. That way you will never feel alone.

I would only use the app to offload my worries. I don’t really listen to other people’s advice. I think I would also be the worst person when it comes to listening to other people’s problems. This is where my empathy issues kick in. I tend to be a heartless bastard at times. I don’t have much sympathy for people who wallow in self-pity, even when I know that I can be one of those people at times. I don’t really have anything to complain about either. I have a great life, the perfect wife, caring friends, a roof over my head and everything to look forward to. It’s not like I am alone or homeless. I just need to a friendly ear at times.

Like I said at the beginning, this post won’t really make much sense. I think what I am trying to say is that people feel lost all the time and deal with it in different ways. My way of dealing with it at the moment is by writing this. I am not very good at writing but by putting words down on a page it helps me off load some of my emotions and organise my brain. Like I said earlier I’m not after advice. I just wanted to put my words out there.

Where’s RoOkin?

I am not in a good place at the moment. One of the problems with having Asperger syndrome is understanding how others feel and what other people mean. It can be very confusing and frustrating at times. It is hard for me to explain to people who don’t have this condition to understand how difficult it can be.

To help you understand what it is like to have Asperger’s and how confusing it can be let me give you a few examples.

Let’s say there is a comic book character called Wally The Waiter. This is Wally…

wally.jpg

Wally is a clumsy waiter who is always falling over things and getting in trouble. He doesn’t mean to be so clumsy but he can’t help it. Some people are just clumsy. He may be clumsy but he always works hard. He is always busy making sure everyone gets their food and he always makes sure that everyone is happy. He is working hard in the picture below. Can you find him? Where’s Wally?

whereswally.jpg

Now if you are American or from another part of the world you might find this task far easier and less confusing than the British people reading this. I am hoping that the task of finding Wally might confuse you. Not because you are looking for him but because to my English eyes there are two Wally’s. There is my made up comic book character ‘Wally the Waiter’ and there is this guy…

wallyface

So you might be forgiven for being confused. American’s on the other hand might not be as be confused. When I asked “Where’s Wally?” They are looking for ‘Wally The Waiter’, they are not looking for ‘Waldo’ as that’s what Wally is called in America.

This type of confusion is what a lot of people with Asperger’s have to deal with. Something you might find simple to understand, like the Americans looking for Wally, might be really hard for someone with Asperger’s to understand. Just like the British people looking for Wally.

Social interaction can be difficult for people who have Asperger syndrome and because it is not a condition that has any visible signs it can be hard to spot. Like you can’t tell who is a vegetarian just by looking at them. It’s only really when it comes to having a meal that being a vegetarian might have problems. For example…

Imagine you’re a vegetarian. You are far away from home and you’re sat on your own in the only restaurant in town and you are starving. No matter how hard you look at the menu nothing on there seems to be clear if it contains meat or not. There is only one waiter in this restaurant (let’s call him Wally) and he looks like a friendly sort of chap. He comes up to you and asks if you are ready to order. You ask him if anything on the menu is suitable for vegetarians. He looks a bit annoyed and then goes away and brings back another menu. However the menu he has brought back just appears to be the same menu. You find this confusing. Does this mean that he has understood that you are a vegetarian and all the food on the menu is ok to eat? Before you have time to ask him the waiter has gone. So you just sit there wondering what to do. The waiter returns and asks if you are ready to order. “Is this same menu that I had before? So everything on here is Vegetarian?” you ask him. This makes the waiter angry. Instead of answering your question he just gives you a long stare and tells you he will return when you are ready to order. So you just sit there feeling hungry and confused as the only person who can answer your question of what you can order is the waiter. You call the waiter over and ask for something without meat. This makes the waiter very angry and he storms off. Is he going to return with food? Meat free food? Is he going to return at all? You sit there feeling hungry, upset and confused waiting for the waiter to return. You then see the waiter happily chatting to other customers. Maybe the waiter isn’t angry after all and your meal on it’s way soon. You wait, and wait. You try and catch the waiters eye and he finally comes over. You ask him how long your meal is going to be? He starts shouting at you and then kicks you out of the restaurant. You have no idea what has just happened. You didn’t mean to upset the waiter, you were just hungry and waiting something to eat.

So being someone with Asperger’s is like being that vegetarian and dealing with someone with Asperger’s is like being the waiter. They both saw things differently. The vegetarian felt isolated and alone and just needed the menu to be explained to them. The waiter on the other hand just thought that the vegetarian was deliberately trying to make his life difficult, but he just didn’t really understand what a vegetarian was. If the waiter had explained what each meal on the menu was then there wouldn’t have been a situation. The vegetarian would have had their meal and the waiter wouldn’t have been so angry.

Having this condition isn’t something that can be fixed. It is just how the brain is wired. like being left handed or right handed. I am left handed, and no matter how hard I try to write with my right hand it just doesn’t look or feel correct to me. I will never be able to use my right hand in the same way I can use my left.

There are lots of situations in life which can be difficult if you have Asperger syndrome or need to deal with someone with Asperger’s. It can be a bit of a mine field. You think everything is going fine but then one day something just blows up in your face. Social media can be like a mine field. It is full of people who have their own ideas, agendas, and their own way of expressing themselves. Lots of waiters, vegetarians, Wally’s, Waldo’s and you don’t know who is whom. Some people you might feel close to because they say things that you can relate to, they on the other hand might hate you. Some people you might dislike but they think you are awesome. Some people clash, some people connect. It can be very confusing for the average person to navigate the online world of social groups and cliques, so imagine what it is like for someone who has Asperger’s. There are people who find swearing at others acceptable and those who take insults to heart. I find it hard to understand the difference between friends having ‘friendly banter’ and two strangers having an argument. 

I often struggle to understand how my words might be interpreted by others, and as a result can find that I have caused offence when this was the furthest thing from what was intended. I hate to think that I have ever upset anyone. It is never my intention to do so. I don’t like to say bad things about others, I know how horrible it feels. I always feel the need to fix things and make things better but then even that can be interpreted as being meddling and intrusive at times. I have always been a bit of a sensitive soul, and some things said online I will never forget. I have been on the receiving end of abuse there was that person who wanted to set me on fire and dance around my burning remains. I may have problem understanding others at times but I’m sure the person who wrote that didn’t want to be my friend. Either that or they are/were a friend who was ‘just having a laugh’ and this was their idea of ‘friendly banter’. I just don’t know.

Because of this struggle I have with understanding others I have decided to remove myself from some social media sites. Why remove yourself you might say? Why not just leave your account and just not use the sites? I did try that, but I found it hard to let go. Hard to step away. I would just keep going back just to see how people are and what they are doing. I just really need some time off line to sort my head out. Saying that I haven’t gone completely, I still have a online presence, so who knows what will happen. I may return, I may not, I don’t know. But if you look, I’m sure you will find me.