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coping » 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.

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.

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!

26 Mar 08 They just know

I’ve been following a fellow blogger with a mental health condition, and how he copes with his life. It’s interesting, because despite having wildly different unrelated conditions, we both seem to have the same type of friendship with someone. He is really close to Ana, and she helps him out with keeping his moods under control, and general stuff like that.

As I read one of his recent posts, and how he missed Ana, yet at the same time wanted her to be happy any enjoying what she was doing, it stuck a chord with me. It’s exactly how I feel about somebody, particularly during college holidays. You see, this person just has some kind of natural instinct for what I’m going to be like. It’s scary; this is something that even my Mum has to think about, my support workers think about. But she just seems to know, yet all that does in confuse me more about where I stand with her. Once you add in a dimension about somebody trying to emotionally protect another because of their disability, it really complicates things. To be frank, I felt less confused about where I stood with her when she told me the words I didn’t want to hear yet made me feel happy about it all!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really sweet that there are people out there like that. And it’s really kind of her to be so patient and understanding. But I can’t help but feel she’s making allowances for me because of my Asperger’s; and I simply don’t want her to do that because it’s not fair on her. Both Nick and I have found somebody who could well become a life-long friend, and that is something that both of us must treasure and respect. I suppose I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have our own conditions, would we still have found them, and would they still be so nice.

I should just try and not pay any attention to all of the complications, I think. But I can’t do that, because I like to analyse things, it keeps me occupied. The thing that I can’t figure out is why people do this. I don’t suspect anybody’s friends have any kind of ulterior motive, far from it. But I’d like to know why they protect us, look out for us, care about us, and ultimately support us through some of the most difficult times of our lives. The hardest thing is to know somebody cares about you, but because they want to protect you, you realise you’ll never get close. If it was a staff member, I could easily deal with that, it’s called professionalism; when it’s a friend, somebody who I really care about, it’s different, because it’s, just, I can’t even begin to get the words I would need to describe it…

20 Mar 08 Train delays

Why is it that every time I choose to visit my Gran in Southampton, whichever method of transport I choose is delayed? Last year my flights had long delays, now I’m sitting on the delayed CrossCountry service from Edinburgh to Bournemouth, which is being terminated a lot earlier than that at Reading! Whilst I fully appreciate that somebody tried to commit suicide near Northallerton, and the circumstances were suspicious, and the police needed to investigate it, and all that, I am pondering a few things…

It’s nice of the train crew (who incidentally change over in Birmingham New Street due to the EU WTD 2004) to tell me that the train is going to be turned back at Reading. Of course, the 2110 Reading – Birmingham New Street is such a popular and essential service that they don’t even provide refreshments on it! So, as it is, I now have a connection to make; onto the train that left Newcastle two hours after this one! They asked us to change over at Derby, the announcement coming just 10 minutes before the train stopped.

The staff at Derby did not appear at all helpful, the first person not having a clue at all. Then the announcement told us to wait on the platform we were on for the next train. So we did, until we saw a screen telling us to go to the platform at the opposite side of the station. Off we all went, only to find out just as the train pulled in that we needed to cross over to another part of station yet again. And Derby doesn’t have a fast food place! An ironic point I should make at this point is that a social worker on the train missed her original one due to dealing with somebody threatening to commit suicide!

I’ve already been on the phone to customer services; the nice people have told me that if I send in my tickets with a covering letter, they will assess my claim for compensation. Following National Express East Coast’s lead, I rather hope they refund the full cost of both portions of the return ticket!

Have a look at a copy of the Complaint Letter.