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body language » 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.

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.

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?