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2008 June » 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 Jun 08 I’d never guess

I’m away at the minute, on ‘the circuit’ as its called, which means that I’m visiting a few different university open days over a short period of time (the ‘summer season’ of open days, as they get called). Now that’s not a bad thing, I really enjoy being away and being able to travel independently.

But, that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about a night I had in a pub/restaurant next to the no-frills hotel that I stayed in on Friday night. As I’m on my own, it can get a bit boring, particularly after I’ve eaten and want to have a few more drinks. The good thing, however, is that the bar staff on duty were really friendly, fun-loving people.

As usual, I ended up flirting with one of the beautiful 18 year old lasses, and I must have taken up the last hour or so of her shift just talking generally and about us. Needless to say, I started off a bit drunk, but once I got talking properly, I thought that it would be better to start sobering up, I didn’t want to come across as some sleazy drunk trying it on; she had enough lads that had already tried.

We talked about being a student, where is good in the local city, what we like doing, and so on. And somehow, I ended up mentioning that I had Asperger’s Syndrome. Then, she shocked me: here was a stunning blonde, blue-eyed girl, only 18, with a clue about what Asperger’s Syndrome actually was. She didn’t say it, but her facial expression told me enough. As I asked her more, her first comment was “I’d never have guessed that you had that!”

Naturally, I was quite complimented by that. I learned that she knew a girl on her college course that has the same diagnosis, and the barmaid reflected on how ‘different’ she was. There was agreement when I said I had a “compulsive drive to socialise”. I was still quite pleased at her comments about not guessing I had AS, as it agrees with my views: that I can cope with socialising, going out, and so on…

24 Jun 08 Marine disruptive pattern material

I was visiting a medical school today, and though that I might blog about the social aspects of the open day, and how I coped with them. Note that this post is paraphrased from a confidential journal I’m doing to help me keep track of things.

The title of this is called “Marine Disruptive Pattern Material”, because it is the first thing I noticed. Not the first thing of the day, but the first thing I noticed when I sat down to lunch. As you might expect, the foyer was rather busy, and there were no free tables; I noticed a young-ish lady sitting on her own, so I politely asked if I could sit next to her, and she said I could. My observation skills picked out that she was wearing a blue DPM style bra and not that I was looking, it was slightly sticking out over her blue strappy top.

We got talking, of course – who can shut me up? – and we spoke about school, A levels, exams, the open day itself and general things like how old we were, where we were from and so on. Funnily enough, I never conversed on any topics that could be considered inappropriate. The only thing I regret was not getting R’s phone number or surname (for FaceStalking)!

However, I did have a “get a grip” moment with myself, when I seemed to lose my flirty personality. I was sitting at another empty table later in the day waiting for the next tour of the campus, and a good-looking young lady came and sat next to me. She was wearing tight-fitting jeans and a white top. I didn’t even open my mouth to say a word. Something must be up with me…

For the rest of the time, I was just talking to the student guides, finding out about the place. I felt comfortable enough to mention my Asperger’s to one of the 2nd year lasses, and she was quite supportive and stuff, looked out for me for the rest of the day, which was nice of her!

Socially, no problems. But then, I always knew I can cope with things, it’s just being able to prove to the service provider that I can do so, without having to go behind their back and breaking their risk assessments…

22 Jun 08 Driving Test 1

On Friday, I took my driving test at 0917. I was relaxed, because I got up nice and early, took a shower, and had a good breakfast and a cup of tea. Then, my instructor took me for a short lesson before the test, practicing manoeuvres and a short drive. Then we spend about 20 minutes just chilling out listening to my CD before driving the short distance to the test centre.

The test centre that falls between my hall of residence and college. Literally 50 yards from each. Needless to say there was a few students and staff wandering around, some of who actually noticed me! It was only when I walked into the waiting room of the test centre that I started feeling nervous. But, within a couple of minutes the examiner had entered the room and called my name; his was Russell.

I passed the eyesight test with ease (not that my instructor had got me to read out the plates of the car behind me, of course), and flew through the safety questions quite quickly. Things went downhill from here (and not just the road away from the test centre), because whilst pulling away, I stalled the car. Unfortunately, I also have a habit of coming into junctions rather fast, as the examiner commented at the end, “Can you remember The Hollymere, where I almost joined you in the driving seat!” That was one serious, and the other was for hitting about 35mph in a 30mph limit – I forgot about Ryhope Road, and whilst I did remember quite quickly, it was too late.

However, my manoeuvres were excellent, not a single fault for my controlled stop, turn in the road, or left reverse.

“I’m sorry to tell you that you not passed the driving test today,” come the examiners words at the end of the test. A short debrief with my instructor in the back, and I was finished. Within 6 hours the next test had been booked and paid for. Thankfully I had the “Pass Promise” to cover the cost of the actual test!

22 Jun 08 Thee be warned

I’m off travelling independently for two weeks, lucky me! I do have legitimate purpose, which is to have a look at 7 different universities and investigate the support they could offer me, as well as discover more about the courses I am interested in.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave the specialist college quite so easily. Everybody was assuming it was next week I was leaving, or else it was Monday. So, the Deputy Principal needed to speak to me before she left, or not, because she left before she did. I didn’t even manage to say goodbye to my residential line manager. I did say goodbye to my college line manager, who is now ringing me on Monday morning.

The other college manager reminded me of how to conduct myself. Not talking to girls on trains, and so on. Not getting into tricky situations where I might get myself in trouble. As I always seem to. But she seemed to think I might be able to get it right!

Even last night things weren’t fully on track. Most people had me down as leaving 2 hours later than I needed to. Then I needed to book in and out the alcohol I bought to drink last night and tonight. To make things harder, I also had a load of photocopying and printing to do for the Coast to Coast cycle ride, which the club is undertaking; the need the forms out before I leave. It was 1am when I went to bed, and I got 4 hours sleep. Lovely.

01 Jun 08 Define “friendship”

An impossible concept for an Aspie, I have learnt from many different experiences. But we are not as alone as we may first imagine. I was amazed at how similar to the neurotypical we are when it comes to deciding what a friend is.

I was talking to my friend last Friday night, albeit for 5 hours, and during the course of the conversation, we talked about our times at middle & high school, and our times at college. She reflected on how she didn’t have many friends at middle school, and then we laughed together when I just said “And here’s me, the Aspie, thinking I had the social difficulties” This moved on to high school, where she had found some good friends, through “forced situations” such as being in tutorial groups that you stick with for most of the day. Again, I shared similar experiences, certainly with my second tutorial group at that school, and also in the science classes, where the groups were together a lot of the time. We could both say how ‘easy’ it was to make friends from the group, and how we just knew they were friends.

But then we moved on to each other, and how we met at college. She didn’t know if I was a friend because she had never been in the situation where she had to make her own friends in a “voluntary situation” like the busy life of college. I commented I didn’t know if she was a friend, because I’ve never been in the situation of having a proper friend, and my “lack of social interaction” makes it even harder.

After looking back at how we think of each other, and the interactions we have, we decided that we were friends, and probably close friends. She knows a lot about me and my life, and vice-versa. Its weird how we had to have a conversation to figure out we’d been friends for 6 months, though. I also mentioned that I used a discreet method to turn a “voluntary scenario” into a “forced scenario”, I used a little quiz, which I was struggling with to start conversations with people (name 10 Disney Classics with just one word in their title); by the end of an hour long lesson, I had the number of two of my classmates, who have both gone on to be considered good friends by me!

Anybody else have any similar experiences or thoughts?