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2008 February » Blogging AS an Aspie
Matt has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is writing this blog so that people can gain more of an insight into how people with the condition process thoughts, feel emotions, react to situations and generally handle life.

29 Feb 08 Non-verbal cues

I was watching Channel 4‘s Big Bang Theory last night, and noticed that Leonard and Sheldon had so much in common with Aspies. For one thing, I can most definately relate to Howard’s comment about being a “self-taught sexual harrasment law expert”, although much of my own teaching has came from the 50,000 trying to protect me from committing an offence under it!

Anyway, having watched the latest episode, The Fuzzy Boots Corollary, I was simply stunned at Leonard’s total lack of apprecation of non-verbal cues in signalling inner emotion. Here is some of the non-verbal cues I spotted:

  • At the end, when Penny asks Leonard if it was a date, Penny subconciously strokes her hair back behind her shoulder; indicating that she may like him more than as a friend;

  • Again, when Leonard is very badly lying about it not being a date, Penny again touches her face and hair; confirming the above signal that she may like him more than as a friend;

  • Sitting at the table in the restaurant, Penny turns to face Leonard, and is making good eye contact, showing that she is interested in what he has to say.

  • But, when Leonard orders the waitress away, Penny turns her head away slightly, raises her voice a little, and her facial expression shows she is a little annoyed with Leonard for his actions. I don’t think Penny understood why he did so, either.

  • When Leonard bangs his head under the table, Penny shows genuine concern and sympathy for Leonard, offering to drive him to hospital, and noticing the possible signs of a concussion.

So, how many did you notice? Or, did you spot more than me?

27 Feb 08 Driving Update

I know I haven’t posted on here for a while – oops!

Anyway, Sunderland should be rather fearful, for I have now been on most roads within the city, including some national speed limit roads. And I’ve also been over quite a number of pedestrian crossings, too.

I find my instructor is very approachable, and a really nice guy. He’s easy to get along with, and we have some good small-talk, something Aspies typically find hard. Some of the things I struggle with are roundabouts – this is possibly having to do so much at once (look for gap, anticipate timing, check mirror, change gear, check mirror, signal, select lane, check mirror, stop, change gear, move off, change gear, steer in one direction, steer in the opposite direction, check mirror, give signal, steer in opposite direction). But, with all things, I think a little bit of practice will get me there!

“Born on a Blue Day”

I have recently read Daniel Tammet’s autobiography (as you will have noticed by the link on the left to his website, Optimnem). I found something in there related to driving. Tammet says he has not learned to drive, because in his opinion, Aspies generally find this much more challenging than neurotypicals. This is due, in part, to the need to concentrate on many different things simultaneously. I agree with this statement, generally, but I find it easy to process the different things simultaneously. I would, however, say that it is advisable for Aspies to communicate with their driving instructor at the earliest opportunity about their Asperger’s Syndrome, and particularly how it affects them. They can then adapt their teaching if necessary to help you!

05 Feb 08 Dr. Ruth Winters

I’m quite a fan of BBC One’s Casualty, and was rather saddened by Saturday’s episode, which saw Ruth hang herself in her room because she couldn’t cope with life’s many pressures. Ruth was an excellent F2 in the eyes of many people, medically speaking her knowledge and commitment to healthcare was second to none. Although quite obviously lacking in the social arena, I noticed quite early in the series that this was a choice she had made; she was there to work, not to socialise.

However, there were also many times during the series where I detected what you may call “Aspie traits”, that is an apparent non-willingness to socialise, to be narrowly focussed on an obsessional interest and other such things. At the same time, I wanted to scream (particularly to Abs, the mental health liaison senior staff nurse) for somebody to notice what this girl was putting herself through. Personally speaking, I know what putting yourself through too much can do, but I also think that Ruth was damn good at hiding how much pressure she was under.

Perhaps it is because I am an Aspie that I can spot traits in others so well, compared to a neurotypical. For instance, most people passed off Ruth’s keenness to research as enthusiasm, I saw it as a sign of becoming obessional, and queried the likelihood of obsessional compulsive disorder. Not going out for drinks after work was seen as Ruth imitating Connie, and becoming a mini ‘Ice Queen’, I realised it was due to a lack of social confidence, a low self-esteem, masked by a thick layer of control and non-emotion – the very traits that can be so easily spotted in a specialist college environment such as the one I currently attend.

The next episode

Since seeing the episode on 9th February, I have this to add: Well done to Dominic (Dr. Doom) for noticing what is wrong with her, and for confronting the issue. That to me is the best way to tackle it. However, he gave up far to easily; yes it would have been wrong for him to kiss her, but under the circumstances he could have hugged her, and calmly talked to her. If he’d tried a little harder, he may have discovered the underlying reasons as to why her confidence is so low.

Well done to Harry Harper for reading her diary, and correctly proportioning the blame onto the ED. I sincerely hope he does make the diary public next week, as it will be an education to all involved in such stressing and emotive professions as to how apparent confidence is often used as a mask to hide low levels of self-esteem.

A final, rather cynical thought: Ruth’s first though upon coming round will be “I’m such a crap doctor I can’t even get my own suicide right!”