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Holiday » 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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23 Dec 08 Yesterday

Yesterday was a ‘funny day’ for me. I met a friend, who I’m still not supposed to be meeting, then I did 5 hours volunteering, which was absolutely manic (no pun intended), and then went back home. I got an email from my friend, well, she doesn’t consider me a friend.

Let’s start from the beginning. As usual to get to Sunderland from where I’m staying, I got the bus, and it passes through where I used to live. An old man got on board and was walking to the seat opposite me when the bus pulled away. Naturally he stumbled and fell forward towards me, he put his hands out to protect him, and I quickly braced myself to prepare to “control a fall”, with my hands aiming to help brace his arms. As he sat down on his seat, I was totally shocked to hear him say, “I wasn’t being funny or anything there!” Why has the world come to an old man assuming that a teenage lad would think he was trying it on?

Then, I gets to Sunderland, and went off to meet my mate. Bless her, she had bought me a lovely present at very short notice, despite me constantly telling her not to! Thanks! And she adored the necklace and earrings that I bought her. We only had 10 minutes as she had a couple of more presents to buy, and I was due out volunteering.

So, on I go to volunteer, where the service users are getting their Christmas Meal today, and there is also a pool, darts & dominoes competition. Most of the staff & volunteers are working in the kitchen and dining room, and the drop-in supervisor is running the competitions. Leaving me and a new volunteer to run the counter.

Normally the counter is an easy job, and I love it. We make tea, coffee, and chat with service users. Usually I get to read my books and magazines… Today was different, after an initially slow start. Once things got going, I was sitting down for about 1 minute at a time before more people wanted serving, and with the supervisor constantly being called downstairs or having other jobs to do, I ended up as acting-supervisor quite often! At one point, I was the only person in the drop-in, never once away from the boiler!

But that’s all part of the fun, and I don’t mind giving up my time to help out. In fact, I’ll probably be doing New Year’s Eve if they need any volunteers to come in and help out! Hopefully it’ll be a little quieter.

Then, I gets home, have some food, and relax in front of my laptop, as is normal for the holiday time. I’d sent an email to my friend on Sunday night, as she hadn’t been talking to me, and I was wondering why. To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting her to reply at all. I’d sent her a lovely present by recorded delivery, and also a poem which makes my feelings for her rather clear – I pretty much managed to say “I love you” without using that exact phrase.

At around 11pm, I saw an email flash up from her, so immediately clicked on it. She told me that she no longer considers me to be a friend, I probably don’t know the reason we’re not talking (possibly because she hasn’t told me?), doesn’t feel the same way at all, and can’t cope with me anymore. Once again, this girl had me in tears, although this time with very good reason, because somehow I’d ruined things again.

12 Aug 08 Remembering what’s important

In the last four weeks, I feel like my life has been turned upside down. I don’t know why it turned upside down, it just did. And what confuses me the most is that I was effectively on holiday when everything happened at once.

I was as far removed from ‘the loop’ as professionals could reasonably keep me. It wasn’t just me; my Mum also was not sure what was going on. In some cases, even my Overseeing Manager at the service provider was not informed of things that affected my care.

I’ll briefly explain a timescale. From 15th July to 25th July I was still at the service provider, although (for all intents and purposes) was on holiday from the college. I returned to my Mum’s house on 25th July, and stayed until the morning of the 27th when I travelled independently to my Gran’s house in Southampton. I returned home on the train on Monday 11th August, and have been at my Mum’s since.

The first I knew something had been going on was when my manager called me into his office on Monday 21st July, and was explaining that “to keep me out of trouble and to protect me” he was suspending all of my community risk assessments until I left the Sunderland area on Friday. But I wasn’t suspicious, his reasons seemed acceptable to me at the time, and I had no reason to suspect that anything else was taking place. I should have noticed later in the week when another manager queried me on an aspect of it, but I dismissed it as a usual lack of communication. It should have been blindingly obvious on the Friday when my manager explained that one of my Psychiatrists wanted to speak to my Mum at home.

As it was, I simply took it as routine, and went about my journey home. I wasn’t expecting the phone call from my Mum on Saturday asking me to be home for 4.30pm because the Psychiatrist needed to “urgently see me at home”. I duly returned, and settled down for the meeting. At this point both my Mum and I discover that “there has been some meetings this week about Matt’s plans for the holidays and potential risks”, not that we get to know the content of them.

And then he said something which made me react aggressively, “[the service provider] has had to make a ‘public interest disclosure’ to [a local] social services child protection team about Matt’s interaction with and behaviours toward [my 15 year old female friend]“. I could not believe what I had heard. Not half because the service provider has no primary evidence of my interaction with my friend. I will admit to getting very aggressive, and in part that was due to a trust breakdown between me and the service provider. At present, I’m not letting on how I feel to them, but I’m there next week, and I intend to confront them with it.

I then went away for two weeks, having been reassured that both my Mum and I would be kept informed of the goings-on as they happened. So how did it happen that my Manager was ringing me at 2.35pm on my train journey home, asking why I hadn’t attended a 1.30pm appointment at my house? Simple, nobody had checked my diary, nobody had copied my Mum or my Manager into the relevant letter, and nobody had rang me to tell me about it. The particular department in question had cheek to “be annoyed that nobody was at home when they called”, considering they hadn’t checked that the relevant people (me!) had been notified!

After a discussion that night, both my Mum and I agreed on something, that it appeared a lot had been going on with regard to my care, but for some unbeknown-to-us reason we were no longer felt to be ‘in the loop’.

27 May 08 Arguing

True to form, my holidays have started off in what is now their traditional way, an argument with my parents (from an Aspie perspective, one could argue that it is at least reassuring that some things never change and that there is a level of consistency). I can now pretty much guarantee that on the Saturday evening after I return home, there will be an argument relating to some aspect of “my behaviour” and “keeping me safe”.

But why am I in this state? Why do I always get myself in a state where I want to cry because of the arguments?

This time, it’s about meeting my friend, to help her revise. For some reason, I had it in my head that my Mum would be reasonable, and let me go and meet my friend to help her. But no, I was wrong. I told her after I got back from Newcastle that I had met this friend; the usual lecture began, an exact copy of what the service provider has been over-exaggerating. I was, as usual, reminded of the risks, that there is a strong possibility I could make my friend feel scared in my presence, that I could do something socially/sexually inappropriate, that I could ‘not conform to the unwritten rules of society’, or that my friend could accuse me of something. That last comment leads to the usual reminders, I could be branded a “rapist”, or a “paedophile”, that I could have allegations show up on a CRB, which would ruin my career ambition.

I was finding it difficult enough to trust the management of the service provider; considering I now no longer genuinely believe that I have a chance of a reasonable outcome when I ask for things to be considered. For my Mum to be taking the same approach really upsets me; I do not wish to not trust my Mum.

I text my friend after this argument, and she replied:

Wel I KNOW tht u wudnt do anything like that. and they shud too! [...] bt if its best then il just revise by myself, then u wnt hav ths shit

This made me happier. As far as I’m concerned, it proves one thing, that I can cope, and that I can cope quite well. All that matters to me is that she is ok with things. My main problem is that I’m in a ‘catch-22′ situation, I can’t prove I can cope being with her independently without going against my Mum’s wishes or service provider’s orders and thus getting myself into trouble.

I told my friend that I enjoy spending time with her, that the revision is something fun, worthwhile and sensible. I told her my feelings on what the adults around me are doing; that they are refusing to believe me (or listen in some cases), that I’m not going to let it bother me, and that it’s basically just crap what they’re doing.

11 May 08 Crisis management

Well, as I did say, I was at my mate’s 18th birthday party last night. It started out really well, with us meeting together in Newcastle and then going for some drinks, which were generously bought by the rich and now legal birthday boy. Afterwards, we took a walk to the bus stop where we had a 20 minute wait, so I ended up impressing my new-found acquaintances with my photography skills.

After arriving at his house, which is a very nice place, the drinks kept on flowing as we helped finish putting out the food and blowing up balloons (along with all the teenage innuendo that goes with it). The food was absolutely brilliant, home cooked by my mate’s Mum, and I thoroughly enjoyed it – having decided that I’d best eat a fair bit before drinking much more. Again, my camera was out, snapping away at different things here and there, all the time impressing those who saw the shots.

Its fair too assumes that by the time most of his family had left, all of us teenagers were fairly drunk. We started enjoying ourselves a bit more; I can remember dancing with a lovely young lady to High School Musical. With the lager now finished, we drank a bottle of wine between us before opening the bottle of vodka to have as shots. A useful thing to remember is that vodka burns, and gets to your bloodstream quite quickly. Now, I can recall a set of drinking games cards was being looked at as we had our second shot, and third, but then as we toasted to friendship, the young lady became extremely upset; the situation changed rapidly from a drunken party into a crisis management because she was in floods of tears about something. Present at this were myself, who’d only just met her 8 hours earlier, my mate who knew her well, and her boyfriend.

As you’d expect her boyfriend tried to comfort her, but physical comfort can only go so far, my mate tried to talk her through what he knew of the situation, but it didn’t appear to be helping. Thankfully, my mate trusted me at this point that I knew what to do, so I hinted for him and her boyfriend to effectively shut up and go away. At this point, I have adrenaline kicking in and therefore I become fairy sober in the space of about 15 minutes. The first thing I done was to comfort and reassure, without saying anything I simply put my arm around her and let her cry silently for a few moments. I then distanced myself emotionally from this all by telling her I don’t know the situation or the people to who it refers, I also told her that I was going to listen to her explain it to me and how she feels.

We didn’t get very far before my mate asked me to go upstairs and use his room because he thought it would be best to give her complete space from people she knows. This idea worked well, because she simply lay down on the bed and continued to talk to me as I lay next to her and hugged her. I cannot remember what physical contact went on between us; I only know that we were definitely hugging. I was glad she felt she could talk to me about it, being so distant from it all, but this led to issues of trust, I totally appreciated that she couldn’t trust me because she’d only just met me, and I respected that. At this point, I made five failures that took a crisis to a disaster, and although I stand by my decisions come what may, I accept full responsibility for the consequences that came.

She asked if she could have a cigarette outside, and this was ok (I had been given her cigarettes and lighter to look after), so we went outside and I gave her one, as we continued to talk some more. Then, she asked for another one, and I refused, saying that she’d want it in the morning. She then threatened to stay outside in an unfamiliar place to us both, or to leave, the risks for either were immense, and I therefore felt I had no choice but to do everything possible to safeguard myself and her – this meant giving her the second cigarette. Whilst doing this, we continued to talk, and she was beginning to feel better.

For some random reason she asked me for a foot massage, and this was ok, as it helped her stay relaxed. This triggered her to talk about her boyfriend and how much she wanted him to wake up next to her in the morning. I foolishly promised her that I would ask my mate to ask him if he would; this counts as two failures, one for the actual promise, and another for considering the request as reasonable because I had no information about what was going on inside the house. We then went back inside the house, and after showing her back upstairs, I went down to relay the promise.

When I got back upstairs, the situation had changed dramatically, and she was no longer relaxed but quite agitated and didn’t want to talk to me. She wanted to run downstairs, but I knew that this was not in her best interests, so I placed myself between her and the door. She then threatened to shout “rape”, or otherwise, but I held firm, and attempted to persuade her to sit down and talk rationally about this at the same time as trying to reassure her that I had her best interests at heart. I finally conceded that I was no longer helping her, and that I needed backup, so I rang my mate to come upstairs and take over me. What had happened was that she had became scared of me, and what might happen, I think the drink was wearing off and she was realising that she was in a room in somebody else’s house with an older lad she’d only just met. Quite rightly, this scared her, and made her feel very anxious.

I switched roles, and went downstairs to sit with her boyfriend to watch Dr. Who. It took my mate 40 minutes to repair the damage caused by me making her feel scared, and to get her back relaxed and how she was before we came back in from the cigarettes. It took another hour before we asked her to come in and listen to my apology. However, after we woke up this morning, we spoke more, and both agreed to put the incident behind us, and to move on. The positive thing is that she is now able to think about what was making her upset and how she can make herself feel better about it. She’s also more confident, because she is able to relax, and she’s going to attempt to give up smoking for her health.

A good party overall. At first, excellent handling of a crisis incident, but then I got a few things wrong which led to a disaster. However, benefits of hindsight are wonderful, and I took immediate steps to resolve the situation, which worked. I can see my faults, yes, but I can also see the positive aspects of it all.

09 May 08 Party

Well, I’m looking forward to tomorrow night. For once, I’m doing something that normal teenage lads do – I’m going round to my mate’s house to celebrate his 18th birthday. That involves drinking alcohol, and having a laugh.

It’ll be a “normal” social situation, with lots of social scenarios going on around me, and therefore I’ll need to handle myself appropriately. I believe I have learnt the skills to do this from the staff at the service provider. It will be a massive positive achievement for me to show that I can do this, and it will reflect good on the service provider as they are giving me the chance to prove myself in a context without staff support and with my peers. Surely they agree?

Well, no, they don’t. They won’t allow me to go directly from there, and instead I have to “go home” so that I’ll be in the care of my Mum, who is letting me go. Big question, why don’t they let me, knowing full well that my Mum will?