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Practical Panicking » Blogging AS an Aspie
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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.
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29 May 08 Practical Panicking

I’ve been reading blogs again, as you do. As usual, it was Nickopotablog, and he was talking about exams and how stressful they are. That reminded me to write this, something I’ve been planning to do for about a fortnight now!

Back on Monday 12th May, I had my AS Chemistry practical examination. As predicted, this involved a titration of sorts, starting off with mixing a homogenous solution of acid. Nothing new there then, it’s the ‘bread and butter’ of secondary school chemistry lessons. One would like to say “impossible to fail”, however, I had somehow lost the better of my senses, and managed to screw it up. What’s worse is that I actually knew I screwed up; because I’ve done similar practicals, and know many different methods of calculating things like basicity, molar mass, percentage composition, and so on.

At this point, I should possible I’d spend most of Saturday at a party, getting rather drunk, so it can’t have done wonders for my brain cells…

The mixing of the homogenous solution was easy; I recorded the masses, calculated concentrations, and so on. I wrote up my table perfectly, and noted the data for the alkali. I carried out some very accurate titrations, and obtained a correct, accurate mean titre. I then set forth on the analysing steps, following the prescribed method to calculate the basicity of the acid. And then, I got the wrong answer, in fact my answer wasn’t even on the paper, so I had to pick the best of the bunch. But, because I’d noted the correct data into the tabulations at the start, I knew the answer I was looking at had to be wrong.

So, I went through, three more times, and still got the wrong answer. What could I do, apart from look at it in sheer frustration?

Now, I’ll explain this from an Aspie’s perspective, highlighting extra causes of stress.

Firstly, the examination was conducted in an unfamiliar laboratory (change one), with new equipment having been bought for the exam (change two). Then there were some unfamiliar invigilators (change three), and a technician the class had never spoken to (change four) aside from when he’d shouted at us some mumbo-jumbo about the costs of breaking equipment! Oh, and not being able to talk to your mates increases the stress factor too!

Also, not being able to use your own method for things (ie having examiners break the paper into separate calculation stages) may confuse people, or else cause them to get the wrong answers…

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