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conversation » 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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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.

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…

20 Jan 08 Midterm Break

I will say that I didn’t feel like I was being observed by the staff, I felt more relaxed, and in some ways, as sense of normality about the thing. Before the gig, we went for a meal in a local Weatherspoons, and it was nice just to sit and chat. When we were at the gig, it was fantastic, we knew where the staff was if needed, but in the main, we were left just to enjoy ourselves.

Despite one of the reasons for going to the gig was because one of my friends from sector college was there, I felt a bit out of my depth in social terms. I’ve never been to a gig before, so unsure of a lot of things; certainly I was not expecting the drink to be so expensive! Socially, I was completely unsure of myself, but I think I got by well enough.

But at the same time, I kept having mental blocks on things. For example, when I felt I was losing the conversation, I would try and think of things we had in common, but all I could get was “college”. I would have talked about how good the bands were, but I don’t lie, so I didn’t. In fairness, one of the four bands was excellent, the only problem was it was a support band; Midterm Break provided a wonderful anti-climax, and a lot of people (us included) decided an early departure would be a good idea.

Upon reflection, I can think of a lot of things I could have done better. Firstly, noticing my friend from sector college standing in front of me might have been a start. I ended up resorting to texting her, only to text back the words “turn around”. Why I did this I don’t know, normally I would have just tapped her on the shoulder and said hello – I’m a touchy-feely kind of guy. Secondly, it’s well known I fancy her, but for some reason, I didn’t compliment her at all. Thirdly, actually trying to sustain conversation would have been a good idea; but I think I failed miserably at that particular point.

Now an interesting point – most guardians of people with AS won’t let them go to gigs for fear of something going wrong. Yet, I’ve just proven how hard it is with lack of experience. Maybe I would have found it so much easier if I’d been to a few gigs when I was younger?