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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The agony of work

Anxiety.

Its my constant companion. From the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep at night I am either feeling anxious about something or awaiting the next visit from the anxiety fairy.

It is at its worst when I am at work, and my mode for combating it is to sink into the job itself as much as possible and to shut out the outside factors. However, this is not always possible for two reasons

  1. I work in quite a busy office environment which is open-plan and always has at least 4 members of staff
  2. I'm the admin manager.
Being the Admin Manager means that I am a destination, and that people want to talk to me and ask me questions. As long as they relate to the process of work, this is fine. I can handle that. But when it comes to gossip and general office chat I am not so good.  There is a lot within conversation that isn't said, so many significant glances, nods of the head and in-jokes that are over my head.

I find it difficult to judge whether people are deliberately talking around me as they don't want me to know something or whether they expect me to be able to interpret this implicit sign language.

I can't.  I just can't.

Dealing with my boss is very difficult as well. While I can interpret most conversations (I think) I find it difficult to deal with her very definitive yet vague statements of "you know what needs to be done. Please sort it out" because I very often don't know what needs to be done, and I hate sitting looking at her blankly, and having to say "no I don't".

I also hate the fact I can't play the office politics games.  NO, scratch that. I hate the office politics games.  I can't bluff, disseminate, use delaying tactics or distract by switching people's attention to another topic. it doesn't work for me and even trying just makes me more anxious.  If I haven't done something I will say so, unlike some of my co-workers who will claim they are "nearly finished", or that it is ongoing.  The worst thing about it is that I am the one who ends up looking bad and ineffective, simply because I have been honest in my appraisal of my own work.

And of course people don't realise that this bothers me because even I'm new to being AS, and I certainly don't expect my co-workers to take it into account. Why would they? It really is my issue to deal with.

Every day I have to remind myself that no-one is doing any of this to deliberately upset me. Every day I try to bury myself in the work and interact as little as I need to. Every day is a struggle, but its a struggle that I feel I am getting on top of as I accept my AS nature.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Money and its issues

Until recently I have considered myself to be "normal". My Aspie revelation is still very new to me, and every day I find something else that may be affected by my ASD issues.

Today's is money.

It doesn't seem to matter how much money I have, how carefully I spend it or how carefully I track it, I just can't save it.  If my income increases, my outgoings increase.  If my income decreases then I feel under a great deal of stress as it is hard for me to find where I can cut back to make it all work.  It is without doubt the single biggest cause of stress in my life on an ongoing basis, and the fact that we have just lost somewhere in the region of £600 per month due to government cuts is very hard to take.

Now, I know I have issues dealing with money, to the extent where I am actually training to be an accountant and have worked as a bookkeeper in the past. But even this financial awareness, my spreadsheets for keeping track of direct debits and standing orders and a constant stifling of my less frugal impulses (a new Final Fantasy game? Buy It! The latest game by Bethesda? Where do I put my money???!) doesn't seem to make me any better at keeping it in my pocket!

Its frustrating constantly and it really does stress me out but thankfully wife took the time to do 2 things.

1 - reassure me that her research into ASD (which she does a LOT! There are 3 of us in this house who are spectrum) shows that saving, spending and budgeting money is something which many people with AS find difficult

2 - talked me through our current spend, our income and the things which are unnecessary luxuries that we could cut back on if we needed to.

So while I worry about money generally, I'm not worrying about it right now. I get paid at the end of this week, and while I know I have overspent this month, wife's reassurance and support go a long way to making me feel that its something I can resolve.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Books: A Study in Scarlet

So, I am a huge fan of House (which was based on Sherlock Holmes) and am devastated that it has finished.  I have also recently watched the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock and the modern BBC adaptation, all of which I found to be very entertaining but very post-modern and skewed towards a particular fashion in their creation.

So, my expectation was when I read a study in Scarlet that Holmes would be very little like the sarcastic, short, brilliant and frankly very Aspie character that he is depicted as on screen, and would likely be much more like the be-deerstalkered aristocratic sleuth of the films of the 1950's.

And I was wrong.

 Holmes is all of that and more. He is very judgemental, quick-witted and scathingly condescending to John Watson, (whom he had not met at the start of this book) focused to the point of obsessive on what he deems to be important, and utterly ignorant of anything he deems irrelevant.

A Study in Scarlet is the first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and jumps midway through from a case in the heart of London involving the deaths of two gentlemen with a note left in blood in German to the American Wild West where a band of pioneers are at death's door until they are saved by a group of spiritual pioneers.  Tying these two disparate stories together is the heart of this tale, and it was as unexpected as it was well-written.

For me as a new Aspie, Holmes is someone I find both completely alien and yet utterly relate-able.  His obsessions with what he feels is worthwhile and his rejection of the expectations of others (such as Watson's astonished insistence that Holmes must learn of the make-up of the cosmos, while Holmes argues he would happily forget the names of all the planets if it gave him extra space for relevant details) reminds me very much of my view of the world: what i think is important matters. Everything else is someone else's issue to deal with.

I have now started on the Hound of the Baskervilles, mainly due to it being the only other Holmes I have available, but A Study in Scarlet is certainly an entertaining and worthwhile read for anyone new to Holmes or wishing to brush up on references from its current incarnations, and it will certainly encourage me to read more Conan-Doyle

Missing the obvious point

My biggest problem, I feel, is that I miss the obvious.  I can sometimes see a lot within a situation which other people miss - particularly if its a repetitive process - but I really do have a blind spot for the immediately obvious and the long-term consequence.

Today's example is this:  Wife and I were talking about the fact that school happens again in about 10 days, and she was saying she's not entirely looking forward to going back to seeing all the other parents and having to deal with them, and I jokingly suggested she find a job that pays the same as mine and we swap. She laughed a little, then said "if I thought you could handle it, I would give it some serious consideration".

I was a little taken aback.  "what do you mean?" I asked "I can certainly do the housework and get the kids to and from school". "Yes," says wife "but can you cope with the parents? Can you cope with the small talk? Can you deal with them watching you, how you treat your kids, judging you?"

"Dead easy," says I, "this is where I have the advantage of not giving a fuck what other people think of me". At that point, eldest daughter comes into the room and announces she needs the loo.  Cue a break in conversation.

When wife comes back she says "I find it hard sometimes that you completely dismiss things that I think are important. I don't make small talk to impress people. I don't often want to spend time talking with them, and I don't really care about them judging me, but our daughter has Autism and they will judge that, and they will judge her, and the only way that we can try to break down the barriers caused by her being different is by being friendly and accepted.  She is going to need friends, and we can't afford to alienate the parents of people that she wants to be friends with."

And with that statement I suddenly understand. Her concern for how she is viewed is nothing to do with her, or with me, but to try to ensure that there are people watching out for our eldest when we're not around: people who will accept her odd little ways rather than trying to change them, people who will accept her, not ostracise her and most importantly try to make sure that people see her first and foremost as a lovely little girl, not some sort of disabled weirdo.

And without that conversation, I never would have understood. I would just have gone on thinking that she spends too much time worrying about what other people think of her, and not understanding why.

I love my wife. In all the world she is the only person who has ever been able to get me to see someone Else's point of view, and right now i think that might be the only thing that will enable me to be the dad I need to be.

Joining the community

In the last few days I have dipped my toe in the water of the Aspie and wider ASD community online, and I have to say that being able to see the struggles of others and reading about the support they receive has been  very comforting for me.
 After creating myself a twitter account and making a couple of posts under the #Aspie hash-tag I suddenly found myself receiving mentions and direct messages from people who wanted to talk to me and invite me to interact with the community at large.  To feel so welcome so quickly into a society where my experience has always been one of social awkwardness, long pauses, anxiety and not knowing what to say was a blessed relief.
 And its been very constructive: finding a good description of what it is to be aspie, joining a group to discuss ASD and Aspie issues or simply having people respond to you or forward your tweets
Finally after having spent so long feeling I have to work as hard as anyone else and never get the level of social acceptance that they do, I'm finding that there are other people out there who are having very similar experiences, and suddenly I don't feel quite so isolated.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Another week passed.

This is a real learning experience for me. I don't think I have ever spent so much time examining my own conduct, thoughts and behaviour, or considering what the impact of my actions are on those around me.  I don't mean that to sound selfish, but I have just never put a lot of thought into the consequences of my actions.

What is clear to me is that be spending this time in self-reflection i am becoming much more aware of how I operate, why I get stressed and finding my own ways of reducing that stress (this blog being one of them).

I told my wife today of one of my odd little habits at work, and it was the first time I have seen a certain look on her face (which I am interpreting as "OK, that is weird"). I told her about my compulsion first thing in the morning to wipe off any data on the whiteboard relating to staff who were sick/ on holiday as soon as the information was out of date, and that I can only do it with the index finger of my right hand.  It sounded odd to me as I said it, but it also happens to be true.  I can stop myself, but I don't see why I should.

I've also started looking back at younger days with a more critical eye. There were always things I did in my life that happened when I felt like I was detached from the incident. It was almost like I was riding co-pilot with myself, in control but somehow separate, with complete emotional detachment. In this state I could (and did) do some really stupid things, the worst one being when I deliberately crashed the car just to see what would happen.

Is that part of being Aspie, or part of ASD generally? The ability to just do something to see what will happen, something that you intellectually know to be a very poor idea but that you feel the need to test for yourself.  I was very lucky I didn't hurt myself or anyone else that day, but I certainly wasn't considering the consequence of my actions.

I just wanted the experience.

Update: After posting the question on Twitter I have had someone come back to me and tell me that they also have the compulsion to crash the car just to see what happened, but that they can't afford to (in more ways than financial). I am so glad that its not just me!  These odd little compulsions of curiosity occur to me all the time (e.g. I wonder what would happen if I suddenly kissed that girl?) and they do take more than just casual dismissal, I genuinely have to reason it out to myself why I shouldn't do it, where I think for NTs the thought is just dismissed, or possibly contemplated without any genuine intention of carrying it out.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Calmer now

After my panic this morning that it was going to be a bad day things have significantly improved.  I genuinely think that writing out why i was anxious really helped.  Seeing it written down enabled me to process it better.

I've always been a visual learner. Whenever I study for anything the best way for me to learn, even if i am reading something from a book is to write out the pertinent points. its as if the act of writing alone aids in my understanding of the subject.  When I was younger it seemed that the first time I wrote it down it would commit to long term memory too, as I never really felt the need to do any sort of in-depth study for exams and i would always manage to pass.  this seems to have faded with time, but that's the natural order, i suppose.

There are things i have been saying about how i view the world for years now, and i have always thought it was just idiosyncratic.  For example, I have always said that I can't picture myself in the future. Just can't see it! I can plan, I can diarise and I can prepare for the future but I can't visualise it. I certainly can't picture what i will be doing 5 years from now, how i want my life to be, what job i want to be doing or how I want to be living.  Its just not there and never has been.  Education or career choices have been based on what i think is interesting now, not on some long range strategy.

I really envy people who can get enthused about a job. I would love to be able to, I really would, but it think the only way that would happen is if i could use my skills to create a job role for myself based on something i really enjoy, rather than someone paying me to do something i don't really care about. The problem with that theory is that i don't really have any skills or particular interests that i could do that with.  so i am destined to spend my days doing work for other people.

My life in bullet points

I recently found this article on How to describe an Aspie to a lay person whic was very helpful to me as it had descriptions of social situations from the Aspie perspective, and a lot of it was very familiar.

What i found particularly useful was the layout of the 3 categories AS is determined by as it is the first time i have seen it in a fashion which I can easily relate to myself.

Social Interaction

He or she may:
  • appear to be indifferent to others or socially isolated.
  • be unable to read social cues.
  • behave in what may seem an inappropriate or odd manner.
  • appear to lack empathy,
  • avoid eye contact when under pressure.
Social Communication
He or she may:
  • have difficulty in understanding tone of voice, intonation, or facial expression.
  • make a literal interpretation of figurative or metaphorical speech.
  • find it difficult to hold a two-way conversation.
  • become agitated in response or come across as argumentative or even over-compliant.
  • use formal, stilted or pedantic language.
  • have poor concentration and thus poor listening skills.
  • be honest to the extent of bluntness or rudeness.
Social Imagination
He or she may:
  • have difficulty in foreseeing the consequences of their actions.
  • become extremely anxious because of unexpected events or changes in routine.
  • like set rules, and overreact to other people’s infringement of them.
  • often have particular special interests, which may become obsessions.
  • find it difficult to imagine or empathise with another person’s point of view.
right from point 1, that's me. i find it so hard to lead in a social situation and really need people to come and start the conversation with me. its not that i don't want to participate, i just don't know how or where to start, and even when i do its normally in a really inappropriate or unusual way.

I'll have to go and let aspienaut know I have linked it, and do more self-examination against it later.

The fear of anxiety overload

Today's going to be a bad one. I can already feel it.

Wife had car trouble yesterday that I thought I had fixed by charging the battery, but while the dash lights come on, it still won't start.

So my morning began with failure in the rain, and leaving a very stressed wife at home who had slept little because of her anxiety about the car.  all i can think of now is how little use I have been to her in this, how much stress she has in having to deal with three ASD people in the house and how much better she would be if I reduced that number to 2.

I just want to run away. And at this moment in time i think she'd let me.  And now I am in work all my worries about the job are smashing into me as well.

So I am sitting at my desk fighting back the frustration and tears, much like I was 6 weeks ago when I had my collapse that took me out of work for a month.  I'm not sure I can cope with today.

And I am thinking that the reason why I am so stressed now is that I can't cope with wife's stress. It wouldn't be the first time I have felt out of control when she get stressed, and i think its because I am so used to her being calm, measured and reasonable. Anything other than that is a change from the routine and affects me badly.

I think the idea that Aspies can't empathise is definitely a myth. Its just that, like so much else, we don't display that empathy in the same way as NTs. I absolutely empathise with wife, but instead of making sympathetic noises i take the stress on board and end up as anxious as she is.

I'm not sure that's helpful, but as I type it I am analysing and it is actually making me feel better. Maybe just sitting down and rationalising out why i feel the way i feel is exactly what i need.

I need to contemplate this further and come back

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The selfish view

For many years I have been aware that I am very self-obsessed in a way that I don't think other people are. Its not that I am vain about my looks - that would suggest that the opinion of other people was significant in some fashion. It could almost be said that my lack of regard for how other people view me is a sign of my lack of awareness.

But I am aware that I am selfish, and in some ways I feel very bad about it, and in the past I have tried to make up for it by being very humble, grateful and welcoming as much as I could be. I never spurned a gift (no matter how terrible) or turned down a kindness (even if it offended me if i knew it was done out of goodness). I have always been prepared to put people up if they need it and feed them if they are hungry.  I try to fight this nature of mine, but its just so easy to find myself caught in my own head and only able to understand how selfish I am being after a situation has passed.

At the moment I am marvelling at the simple fact that I have had a daughter who has been visibly developmentally challenged for 3 years, treated as disabled for 2 years and diagnosed for 1 year and yet it is not until now that I have really taken any huge interest in ASD, and that is because it now applies to me.  Worse is the fact that i have another daughter who has recently been put on the pathway to an Asperger's diagnosis and I still didn't investigate. 

Only now that its me. Now I'm involved.

Oh I know that the wife provided information from the Internet and doctors, support workers and teachers etc.. and that seemed good enough. only now, sitting in the middle of it, do I see how unfair it has been on her to be forced to attend all the meetings, medical and social, and find all the information and the strategies for dealing with the girls. And now here I sit, obsessing about my own condition and taking the time to post it all on here. back in my own head again.

Sometimes I really hate myself

The name of this blog says it all, and i need to remember it: its not all about me.

Full Achievement Granted

So I managed to go to the RP group last night.

It did take some effort

a: to go to the place (where i was, of course, the first one there)
b: to wait around for other people
c: to go into the building
d: to stay

but i did it all.  it was very awkward at first because of course people don't just swarm around you and fully socialise, so it took me some time to really integrate but by the end of the night i was fully involved in a game and talking well to a couple of the members

the only thing that I'm not happy about was that i couldn't seem to help myself in my nervousness telling the guy who runs it, and whoever else was listening at the time, that i have real social issues, have difficulty attending something new, may not come back next week. we'll see.  i mean, its all true but there's just no need to divulge it, particularly to strangers.

i am happy about the fact that there was a girl there who made a comment that really annoyed me (beyond her habit of shouting "ROLL A 1" every time i rolled the dice) and while i wanted to argue with her i made myself stop as i didn't want to be the new guy who causes trouble.  i even managed not to give her the cold shoulder for more than about 5 mins. Score!

so, all in all a successful night. i enjoyed the game (Dystopian Wars, which has some really excellent steampunk navies) and by the end of the evening i was back to being my old rambunctious gaming self.

its nice to be back amongst my own kind :)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

leg jiggling

it occurred to me yesterday that i have been stimming my whole life by doing my leg jiggle. I have to admit i do find it comforting, but am often unaware that i am doing it.

The unthinkingly insensitive me

A meeting I had in work this morning was an absolute microcosm of my life and social ineptitude.  Lets call the employee I was dealing with Carol.

Carol has come in from what has been in effect a month's leave as she has had to look after her kids during the holidays. she is a part-time worker and is excellent at her job: she's a real hard worker.  while she's been away the department has been restructured and of all people within the team her job has been changed the most, taking away virtually everything that she prided herself in on the role.

But do I consider that before our meeting. Not nearly well enough!

So, we sit down and the first thing she says is "How are you?" to which I respond "Well, I'm here, but I'm going to tell you something that i haven't told everyone, but I'll tell you because I know you'll get it. I have been referred to the psychologist for assessment for Aspergers Syndrome."

Carol says to me "do you feel better?"
I nodded "so much better".
"Yes", says Carol, "because you have an answer"

There was something in the way she said it that didn't sit right. i still don't know what and I keep going back to it. but i followed it up with the response that is now making me cringe

 "yes, i said, and its a good answer, because now i understand why when it felt like the entire core of my job was taken away from me and changed that I just couldn't cope." She just nodded with dewy eyes. "but that's not why we're here," I continued. "we're here to talk about your job role." "well, " says she, "its good that you feel you can talk about it with me. thanks for sharing." then we moved on to talk about her new role.

And she hates it. HATES it. hates the fact we've changed it. hates that her roles have went to other people, hates that no-one else's have changed this much as hates that we've done it now and given her new responsibilities just as she is about to take time off due to medical need and so she won't even be able to define her job role. Someone else will put it all into place while she is away.  Now she doesn't put it in that way but I've known her long enough to see it in her, in her reactions, and in the long awkward silences where she fights back tears.

And all after I told her about how I understand why i reacted so badly when i felt my role changed. well it didn't change nearly as much as hers. its like comparing bruising your shoulder to losing your arm.  I wish i could have seen this coming at the start of the meeting. I wish I could predict other people's reactions better, and I wish i was less self involved.

note to self - if someone asks how you are, they are being polite. they don't really want to know!!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Coming out to family

Other than my mother with whom I share all significant information in my life I had not until today decided to share my ASD nature with anyone on my side of the family (have shared with the wife's side as they live close and we see them a lot. it would have been hard not to).

Today i decided i needed to share this with my younger brother.  He is the one i have always felt closest to even though age-wise there is a larger gap between us than between any of my other siblings. My sister lives overseas and as far as personal discussions go might as well be on another planet, and my elder brother and I... its not that we don't get on, per se, i just don't really want to spend any time with him, though i do love his wife and their kids.

Anyway, I chatted to brother #2 on fb today and told him about my referral (and i even remembered to ask about his fiancee beforehand!), and the fisrt thing he did was ask me how i feel about it and whether it helped me explain things.  I am always amazed by his reaction to things. In my head he's still about 11 even though he turns 30 next year. He was the one who rescued me when i had my first collapsed into depression and the one who i moved in with when i was strong enough to get back outin the world. I suppose i hadnt really thought until now on how much i rely on him.  Well i told him about how it explained so much and the feeling of relief, and all he did was remind me that it doesn't change the fact that i am me, and if anything it will help me straighten out my life and relationships.  I already know all of this but its good to have a brother who thinks the same.

Books: Tarzan of the Apes

I've just finished reading Tarzan of the Apes, and for a naive, racist, misogynistic tome very much created by the age of the British Empire it is surprisingly touching and deep.

The story is now such a wonderful cliche: the child of an English nobleman brought up ignorant of his origin by a tribe of Apes rises above his savage upbringing to become a fine gentleman.

The main complaint I have about this book is its stereotypical view of the world from a very white middle class perspective of the day. All of the white characters are very noble and Honourable, unless they are sailors in which case they are ruffians, thugs and mutineers.  There is only 1 black character with any depth who is, unsurprisingly, a servant, and is prone to hysterical fainting. Most of The Blacks are natives of the African Jungle and are portrayed as primitive, superstitious, stupid, cannibalistic savages. Tarzan himself is a clean-limbed, tanned Adonis of a man, referred to often as a forest god.  For all of the above I should hate this book.

However, watching the white ape struggle to fit with the apes he believed were his people and then struggle to master the social etiquette of modern society made Tarzan a much more empathetic figure than I would have expected. Maybe its my new found appreciation for what it is to be different in a society that expects conformity but i found myself warming to him and understanding the bittersweet finale that gave him the opportunity to escape the gilded cage he found himself drawn towards.

Taken as a book of its time and accepting its rather un-PC nature I'd recommend it to someone looking for something a little different from standard fare, but i would probably direct them to Kipling first.

partial achievement

one of the positive things that has already come out of this is that i now understand that my lack of social life is due to my general anxiety over meeting new people rather than a lack of desire to have friends.  if i look at my life at the moment, all of my friends are either family, made through my wife or friends i have had for years from school & college. i can onhly think of 1 real friend i have made since i moved down here and i very rarely see him.

so, yesterday i looked for a group interested in rpg/ wargaming in my local area (which frankly seemed unlikely) and managed to find one which was open to all comers. even so i had to email them and check it was OK to come along just because i wouldn't be able to cope with simply turning up without warning. it would have totally freaked me out.

anyway, I've made contact with the group and will be going to meet them and see what they are about tomorrow, and I'm even going to have some food with them.

this is only a partial achievement as i still have to brave the actual activity yet.  I'll see if i can convert this into a fully achievement by tomorrow

Coming out to friends

I tried yesterday to put a post on facebook about my condition, undiagnosed as it is, but i couldn't find the right words, and i found myself worrying that the reaction of people would be negative, disparaging or aggressive. 

i know that the theory is that people with ASD don't really care about anyone but themselves but this is in my experience a skewed view. I care about what other people think and say as far as it affects my view of myself, so in most cases that means not at all, but at this moment in time its quite a substantial amount.

so, i didn't do it, and i don't know if i will be able to do it in the near future, but the wife did suggest that i start joining aspie groups on FB, and take a subtle approach to telling people. As she said, most people won't care.  But its not really about them caring. i really just want people to understand that I'm programmed to be a bit weird.

Lets face it. i just want acceptance and in some ways a strange sort of absolution for things i did in the past where i know i upset or annoyed people by my actions which were inappropriate but where i couldn't see or understand that.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Telling the company

My relief at having a framework with which to engage with myself is matched only by my growing dread at what to tell people/ how to deal with it. I know its my issue to deal with and that I shouldn't expect anyone to change for me, but I do want people to know that my sometimes odd, unfriendly or distant way of communicating is not odd, unfriendly or distant by design

Well that's not always true. Distance holds my anxiety at bay and there are some people I simply don't like and don't want to be friendly with. But its mainly true.

Today's task of the day was letting my HR department know (previously i only told my line manager and her deputy), which i have done in in response i have received nothing: no word, no acknowledgement of the email. nothing.  i am really starting to worry that people think i am crazy or hypochondriacal (not sure that's a word. well, it is now and I'm claiming it). I mean, I'm not exactly rain man. I'm not even Sheldon Cooper (who is not Aspie, the creators of the Big Bang Theory are eager to let us know). this is the problem with the public perception of AS being characters from TV and movies who are always over the top, as the normal life of anyone is not interesting enough to put on TV. even "reality TV" has to have some sort of gimmick. lets face it, no-one would pay to watch people go about their normal business.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The current conundrum

See, this is the problem with my tendency to DECIDE. I have DECIDED that I have ASD before I have been diagnosed, although I don't know exactly where on the scale I am.  Asperger's is definitely a possibility  demonstrated by my BAP test results

the problem is that people who have known me for some time have reacted with a sort of polite indifference bordering of incredulity, and while no-one has said it to my face I can see that there are people who simply don't believe me. I shouldn't be surprised. there were plenty of people who didn't believe that there was anything wrong with my eldest who has been diagnosed as severely autistic, including our own doctor.

Its just galling that I am going to have to cope with this while under scrutiny from some people, particularly people in my work, who simply think that I am lying, acting up, playing for attention of simply talking bollocks.

 I've undertaken a number of other indicator diagnosis tests such as the AQ test which is a recommended AS test used diagnostically by professionals for adults (or so I have been told) where I score 43 out of 50. given that the wife scores 5, and that the advice is to talk to someone if you score over 32 I'm going to stick with my self-diagnosis until the NHS catches up (which will likely be in about 18 months time)

I know I have plenty of NT traits otherwise this would have all been picked up years ago. as it is people have merely been aware that I have had certain emotional control issues (put down to hormones in my teens) and have always been a bit of an oddball. certainly my collection of friends never helped with that perception: all RP geeks, little in the way of "normal" behaviour and charisma, all natural outsiders.  so when you are odd but within a group where your behaviour is not considered that unusual, people stop considering that you may be anything other than a little eccentric.

knowing about this years ago could have saved me a lot of emotional trauma

But the fact of the matter is I currently feel uncomfortable at work as I have people around me whom I genuinely feel do not believe me. so what do I do? what can I do? how do you convince someone that you have ASD when they have known you for almost 2 years and you look and act to all intents and purposes normal. I have been regulating my behaviour for years without relating it to ASD at all although given that i had to have a month off with stress obviously not very well.  knowing I'm ASD should make things easier, but what do I do now that I have told my work that this is what is happening with me, i feel if anything that it is making things harder.

Emotional reactions

It's always surprised me when I have later looked back on things how i react to things emotionally. I have 2 daughters who were both premature, and in both cases there was the very real danger that either they or my wife would die, but this was all taken in stride. I always thought that I would vent my emotions about it later, but never really did. Actually, first time my main emotion was happiness that I would have the house to myself for a few days. It's horrible to admit but its true.

In fact now that I think about it I remember being annoyed when the hospital kept changing dates and times of events happening such as operations and I was more annoyed about the late change of detail than I was concerned about the operations.

I suppose its that I can easily take on board any fact as it relates to me as long as the schedule doesn't shift.
That's good, right?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Childhood indications

So, this morning I was thinking about things I did as a kid which were maybe indicators to ASD. I know my mother took me to the doctor due to my behaviour but that was,well before aspergers was accepted as a condition by the NHS.

I know I have an obsessive personality and have for years avoided things on tv that would suck me into pointlessly enforced routines e.g. soaps but with other things I get so into them that I find it hard to do anything else with my spare time.  I remember becoming so obsessed by football stickers that I stole money from my parents to try to complete the collection. I couldn't explain why it was so important to me.

I also remember doing really antisocial things that even at the age of 10 or so were gross e.g. getting into trouble at school for making people sniff my fingers after I put them up my bum. I don't know whether its related but I'm also terrifically repressed and find it hard to talk about things like that. This is the first time I have talked or written of that incident and it still makes me feel awkward.

I know its going to take a long time to get my head around all of this but I have been able to talk to my wife about things that bothered her or me in light of this and its going to help us both. Apparently I walk away in the middle of conversations and it bothers her. I didn't know I did it but its common apparently, so I'm standardly abnormal at least.

Friday, 17 August 2012

This wasn't the plan I had

I don't know where to start.  I'm 38 years old and suddenly I may have Asperger's.

A life lived knowing and accepting that I am an outsider but never knowing why suddenly makes more sense and is both exhilarating to finally have a framework with which to understand my impulses and behaviour and a real whack to my self-confidence that i don't really know myself at all.

It makes me laugh that for years when I did meet people I would always say to them "the bullshit you see is the bullshit you get". Now i know that's not even close to true.

More annoying than anything for me is the fact that this has made me realise that I'm not as smart as i thought i was. i was always aware that i could see things that no-one else could, but now I'm becoming aware - rather painfully - of the "simple " things that most people get that bypass me entirely. the thought has since occurred that this means I'm actually not as smart as most people but I'm not sure my ego will let me consider that just yet.

Anyway, I've decided after prompting from the wife to write things down as i discover them, even if only to look back later and see if it all makes sense or seems ridiculous.

Here's part of the "odd " list so far.
  • I can't picture myself in the future. never been able to
  • trying to plan into the future makes me uncomfortable and stressy
  • i walk away from conversations without warning
  • i really don't like people in my house, particularly if they have turned up without warning
  • the more stressed i get the more i withdraw from social situations
  • i don't like drinking to excess as i don't like to lose control of my actions, and i don't think its acceptable in other people
  • i get confrontational with others when they break rules, even if its nothing to do with me, or the rules are only known to me
  • in an argument i will often needle the other person to get a predictable negative response because a predictable response of any kind is better than being conciliatory and not knowing what will likely happen
  • i have never, even as a kid, wanted to "be" anything. i have considered jobs/ careers as and when i have had to.
  • i find it hard to empathise with people, although i can "pass" in social situations if i have to
  • i HATE last minute changes of plan, and have been known to go home rather than stay out with my friends if they decided to go to a different club than initially planned.
  • i DECIDE and then find it very difficult to change my minds
  • i am anti suicide on the basis "suicides don't go over", but i don't actually believe in heaven in the conventional sense so that my own stance makes no sense
  • once I've started talking about something i HAVE to get to the end of it or i can just feel it bashing against the back of my eyeballs and making me stressy
  • i find it very hard not to correct people when they make errors.
  • i find it difficult to explain when i see a better way to do things, and very hard to accept that even if i do manage to explain it, people may still choose not to do it (its like they are being deliberately obtuse)
  • I'm very physically sensitive in my genitalia, to the point where other people touching is generally more uncomfortable than pleasant (but hey, i persevere on that one!)
  • i don't generally start conversations (though i do sometimes decided just to tell a story or make a pronouncement) and am no good at small talk
  • i have done so many things in the past that i cant explain but i though were a good idea e.g. putting sellotape in someones hair that i didn't really know as i thought it would somehow make us more friendly.
  • I love specific tabletop RP games but have to work ridiculously hard to try to account for every possible eventuality so as not to have to improvise.
  • I cant picture what might be like to be someone else.
  • i like any games where a growth in numbers means you are winning (not just score but stats/ experience too
I need to stop now as I'm starting to scare myself and i haven't really got going yet.