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2008 November » 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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27 Nov 08 Maybe, maybe not!

I’m not quite sure how to write this, to be honest. What it is, I know somebody in one of my GFE college classes who I’m not sure if she has a “non-descript undiagnosed underlying condition”, and I’m considering the possibility that it may be “on the spectrum”…

My observations

She is a friendly enough girl, in fact it’s fair to say that she gets on with pretty much everybody at college, has a large circle of friends, and is incredibly sociable. It’s crossed my mind more than once that she may well be in college purely to build a social network!

But in the lesson I have with her, she displays a lack of confidence, which usually comes across as attention-seeking. Though it may be possible that the low confidence and attention-seeking are entirely seperate issues. It’s hard to say why she’s not confident about the work, because in the time I’ve seen her focus and do it, she is more than capable of answering the questions correctly.

As well as that, she is usally asking for help, either by ‘disrupting’ other people or shouting the lecturer’s name out loud. Whilst it’s excellent that she recognises her need for support, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps there are other, more appropriate ways of going about obtaining it! This can often lead to other people trying to help, which may contribute towards the next problem…

The habit of continual talking. I know this is something I am quite an expert on, but not even I am that bad! It starts with the subject, but quickly moves off to everybody’s social life and anything else she feels like talking about. Quite often we have discussion about how long until break is, can it be extended, and can we finish early? This conversation will be ongoing whilst she texts any of her friends not in the lesson! It’s probably safe to assume that she is very easily distracted, and it can be a struggle for the lecturer to bring her back on task.

What I’ve heard

I’ve also heard that she is the same in other lessons, and has been throughout her school life.

My analysis

Well, I’m not sure if she is on the spectrum. I’ve considered the diagnostic criteria for sub-strands of conditions, and I would say that it’s possible that she’d fit some of the criteria for attention-deficiency. She also fits some of the criteria for hyperactivity, but not many.

At present, it may be that she has an “atypical presentation” of a related condition. I know it’s possible to miss ASD completely with girls, and even more so as they mature and the symptoms can be masked as they master the social skills necessary to make up for the deficits.

I simply don’t know if it should be considered a possibility or not – maybe she should see an educational psychologist…?

25 Nov 08 Self-control

Against even my own belief, I am proving that I actually have some self-control. For once, I think I can avoid getting myself into what I know would be a stupid and bad argument.

The trouble is, the reason for this new-found self-control isn’t a one that is “easily-transferred”. Once again, I find myself making the right choice because of one person in particular. And it’s that one person that I’ve blogged about at different times of the year, including my self-control at her birthday party.

This time, I’ve just been looking around Facebook, as you do, and my news feed showed some ‘Recently tagged photos’ of my friend; being a nosey sod that I undoubtebly am, I clicked the link and started to look at some of them. Initially, I made a couple of comments, one was in response to another one of her friends. But then, almost immediately, he replied with something that kinda incensed me a little bit.

I don’t know why it did. Actually, I do know why it did, and it stems from a combination of two things: my respect for my friend, and how much I care about her. Ok, so there is a third factor, but I can’t post it on here, I barely admit that factor to myself… So, I went straight for the keypad of my phone to type a response, and started a few words, but then froze. I actually managed to put in place the main strategy everybody around me has been trying to get me to do: STOP, think, act.

My thoughts then centered not on me, my comment, or what I was replying to, but immediately on my friend, and her feelings. I couldn’t post, I just couldn’t; it would most likely end up upsetting her. And that, I think, is something I keep trying to “protect her from”. That sounds bad – God only knows how much I complain about people doing that to me – except I don’t actually do much, or interfere. I’m just there, someone she can talk to, or someone who’ll ask her a couple of questions if I think she’s aiming straight down a path that will only lead to her being hurt.

I just wish I knew why my thoughts were the way they are. I really do, it’s so hard to figure out for most teenage lads, but it’s harder again for me. I’m confused, and right now, I don’t even think that Thought Process Analysis will do much other than end up in an infinite loop!

Well, now just to smile, be happy I didn’t do anything, and try and relax…

24 Nov 08 Taking the piss

I make no apologies for the title of this post. The service provider really is going too far now, and has got me jumping through quite a number of hoops just to be able to meet my friend!

Regular subscribers will remember the saga back in April & May of this year, when I was directly ordered to not meet my then 15-year-old friend in town for the purpose of helping her revise. Needless to say, the service provider hasn’t particularly changed its stance much, and is following its usual ethos of ‘check everything to the nth degree, and then go back and check it all again’ before even considering anything. It’s hardly any wonder why I believe progress to be so slow…

Back in August, my friend had her sweet 16th. Ok, maybe not-so-sweet, but you get the idea! With me helping her revise for her GCSE exams, she was in Year 11 at school. Which meant that she must have been born between 01/09/1991 and 31/08/1992. To further back this up, she’s been constantly talking about her sixth-form subjects!

So, 3 days after that day, I was in my manager’s office, asking him to risk assess me to meet my friend. My manager is a genuine bloke, and although he feels he cannot advocate for me with this issue, he does pass on my requests to the senior management team, and returns their replies promptly. And what response did I get? It certainly wasn’t an “off you go, stick within the city centre risk assesment” type response I was hoping for.

I got a “could you ask your friend to show us some photographic ID with her date of birth on it please” response. My immediate thought was to tell my manager where I might well plan to stick her photographic ID if I get it! However, I then had to simply ask how I was supposed to obtain said ID without meeting her to borrow it from her, bearing in mind that she still couldn’t be allowed with the halls. I was told to ask her to post it! Charming…

Well, I came up with a novel idea this month, having not managed to be able to get my friend to be able to photocopy something suitable and post it to me. She has kindly photographed her bus pass using her phone, and pictured messaged it to me. I’ve then saved the picture, copied it to my computer and put it on a USB pen drive. Then I went to see my manager, and I put it onto his computer, and he will take it to senior management.

I miss my friend, and she keeps telling me she still has a hand-made thank-you card from when I helped her revise. I was meant to get it when I saw her for her birthday party, but I never ended up going to that. Her birthday fell right in the middle of the first aid duty I was doing all weekend, and I ended up so busy and distracted that it was the next day when I eventually remembered to call her and wish a happy birthday!

Anyway, I’m now just waiting for senior management to get back to me with the latest set of hoops to jump through!

21 Nov 08 So what went wrong?

I remember at the start of the year, I posted some New Year’s Resolutions, and I promised to keep to them. As 2008 draws to a close, let’s revisit them, and see the progress I’ve made.

I will update this blog often, I hope to post at least twice per week.

Well, for a lot of this year, I didn’t post at all on many weeks, so I though I’d done really badly with this one! But, I’ve been and looked at the stats, and it seems that so far, this is my 53rd post! So, I’ll have at least averaged more than 1 per week.

In terms of software updating, I’m now more than on top of things. Thanks to the guys over at WordPress, I’m running WP2.7b3, with a theme that can handle all of the new features!

I will learn to drive, I hope to pass both tests before the end of May.

Well, I didn’t pass the test before May, like the original plan was. But, I did pass the theory test in March! Then, after 3 attempts, I passed the practical test (with 9 minors). Thank-you very much Tony P & Phil from BSM for the many hours of lessons (and also thanks to Kelly in the office for managing to fit some lessons into my instuctor’s diary before the 3rd test)! In October, I also did 6 hours of Pass Plus training, which should lower my insurance for whenever I decide to go out and buy a car…

I will save at least a grand, I intend to go to university after my time in a specialist college, and would like to make life easier on myself.

Yeah, erm, maybe not! I haven’t so much as saved a grand as have a grand on my credit card. Oops. Things happened, like needing the best part of

17 Nov 08 Coexistence

In the last two years, I’ve lived in the same place. This year, you’ve heard me whinge about what I hate about it. This post is different, I’m not whinging, but it’s more of an exploration of curiosity.

The hall where I live is surrounded quite nicely by a private school. Now, naturally, that means we’re surrounded each weekday by hoards of screaming kids, a few teachers, and so on. Yet in my two years, I’ve barely seen any interaction between “us and them” as it were. Why? I want to challenge that, and also write about 2 years worth of minor observations.

Firstly, let’s look at the teachers. I know who the headmistress is, she was the one who turned up when the school caught fire last year, and is generally to be found randomly appearing near the crossing with words such as “Katie, tuck your shirt in!” or else “Brian, your tie has turned invisible again.” I can take a guess at one or two others – the large gentleman who parks in the back lane in his 4×4-ish car; I think he may be a head of year, he’s strict when he needs to be, but he’s always so friendly to the students, plenty have I seen him make sure someone wasn’t standing alone in the dark awaiting a lift home. Then there’s the older man who gets off the LRTS at the bus interchange and walks through the civic centre, I can set my watch by his arrival off the 0741; I think he might be a form tutor for the younger year groups. Based on the service he gets off, I can conclude he lives North of the river, towards (or in) the neighbouring town.

I’ve seen one or two of the older ladies come off the buses after school finishes, so I suspect they may be in the humanities department, after all that is where most school trips come from. I think one of them has a daughter at the school, or else some other school-aged member of her family. And you can’t miss the PE department, in their school-branded tracksuits, they’re often found walking a group of young adults to wherever it is they do outdoor sports. I can even tell you that students congregate in a corner of a certain car park before walking down to compulsory games lessons.

But, throughout my time, one student has stood out above the others, and for no other reason than her looks. She is rather well known by most male students in my hall, although until recently nobody knew her name. The rest of this post is a story about how the internet is a risk to privacy, and how such small things can lead you to a mountain of information. This young lady was noticed often in the mornings, waiting for her games lesson, always talking. I think what made it hard for everyone to forget her was the stunning curly auburn hair; that, and something else about her that nobody can describe.

Over the next two years, the students at halls have seen her come from gossipy-style-schoolgirl to a mature sixth former. Of course, she didn’t help us to not notice her. We discovered she had a boyfriend quite easily, as he moved his lips with hers, his hand through her hair, as they fell backwards over the railings at the zebra crossing. It was watching a love story unfold before our very eyes; and to think, people will pay 6 quid to watch inferior actresses in the cinema. Not that we could miss it, most evenings we had to walk past this sweet expression.

Should anybody have managed to ignore it though, there was one time that was so obvious; the two caused quite a fuss within the building! We were sitting waiting for our pizza to arrive, and it so happened to be the school’s open evening, and then one of my mates shouted across, “Isn’t that the fit one from that school – is that her boyfriend!?” After hastily slamming the windows so as not to interrupt their time together, a discussion broke out deciding who the young gentleman in question was; much deliberation settled on him being the ‘school jock’, but we were undecided on the issue of rugby or football. As our pizza arrived we settled in the kitchen, where we ended up with front-row tickets to the latest. There, sitting on our wall was what can only be described in the most intimate you can get without falling foul of the law! Another window-slamming ensures they don’t hear the wolf-whistling and vulgar comments from within, although it does disturb them slightly.

By this point, I know she is 16; I’d defy any visually-typical person to tell me they walked down the street and missed that badge covering her blazer! Not to mention, she was now in the 6th form, so must have been in Year 12. I could also pretty much say she lives in town; she walks down past the day college site, which only leads to the posh area of town or a bus route that stays in town. I also know what school she goes to – obviously! I don’t know her name, but I figure it’s time people in my hall and that school should be talking; for one thing, I ought to apologise for slamming the windows and disturbing her. Of course, in two years, I’d guessed at her name, Amy, Megan, Jessica, Louise, Cheryl, and many others were guessed!

So, in come trusty Google and Facebook. Nothing could be found from Google at this point, except to note that she’d been in the photoshoot for the school’s website when she was younger. Facebook didn’t reveal too much, except two groups related to the school; one of these was a current appreciation group for a current teacher. I couldn’t find anything to help me in the members list, so I posted to the wall and discussion board, hoping for an answer. It didn’t take long for somebody to give me a name, which I searched on to discover she doesn’t have a Facebook profile. Not to worry, as Google came up with plenty…

Put her name into the engine and the first link will tell you that she is 5′ 7″ tall (guessed that), has blue eyes (knew that), auburn hair (knew that), is dress size 10 (guessed that), vital stats of 34B/25/36, shoe size 7, inside leg is 32″, and specialises in photographic modelling! Sorry, but, whoa, isn’t this far too much information to be having on the internet about a 16 year old girl? Next result gave me her old Bebo profile, complete with pictures, and information including that she is a season ticket holder for the local premiership club as well as a “netballer obsessive”. The third result of relevance was a deleted Wikipedia page (information still available on Google’s cache) informing me that her boyfriend played football for a local academy, and lives in a suburb of town. I now also know her boyfriend is the Head Boy at school.

Then, the very next day after discovering all that, I had a random young lady add me on Facebook from this high school. I accepted, placing her onto my limited profile, however going with my ethos of getting some interaction going between the two establishments. After some messages back and forth on the wall, I discovered she added me because “xxx told me to” – my, my, doesn’t popularity do wonders for you these days? Weird how things can happen like that – apparently she had seen my original posting on the appreciation group and wanted to know if she knew me. Not having Facebook herself, she asked one of her friends to check me out…

Finally, this whole story is almost pointless. Her boyfriend has recently passed his test and now drives her home from school each night. I assure you he is a very good driver, and incredibly cautious with reversing! Except to say, the young lady who added me on Facebook will say “hi” if she sees me around – no doubt she will what with me living next to her school!

But back to the original… Why do people seem to have so little time for simple pleasantries such as “Good morning”? It seems sad that, looking back, there has been two attacks on the back lane between “us and them” and neither of the establishments has either been able to help, or cared much about them.