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curiosity » 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.

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…

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.

03 Nov 08 The power of observation

The following is what I noticed from 10 minutes of sitting opposite somebody on a train!

Based on where the 1045 service comes in from, I took a guess that she had travelled via London to get here, more specifically, either Paddington (unlikely), Marylebone, or Vauxhall (unlikely). She appeared to be quite tired, so perhaps she has spent most of her morning travelling.

She also waited until we were 30 seconds away from the platform – well after the guard made his announcement. Barely looking out of the window, and seemingly absorbed in her reading, I would probably say that she is used to this route; possibly it is routine for her to take long weekends at home? She was more than halfway through her book, and barely lifted her head; reading is obviously quite a passion with her.

Then, based on the fact that this was a Monday, and she had a couple of large bags with her, I could assume that she had been home for a long weekend somewhere. Some of the things in her open bag were food-based, including home-made sandwiches for the journey; I think her parents care about her a lot, and she is quite close to those at home.

As it’s early November, and she’s coming across as a confident young lady, she could be a 2nd or 3rd year at one of the universities. There again, I didn’t notice any notes or textbooks in her bags. What I did notice was an offical-type letter in its envelope. Had a tin of food not been in the way, her address would have been on show.

Physically, she was a slim girl, with originally ginger, dyed brown layered hair. She wasn’t wearing much makeup, but she applied some lip gloss as we came into the station. She wasn’t engaged, she had no ring on the finger; but maybe not single, I don’t know what, but something just told me she wasn’t available.

How do I notice so much?

I don’t know. Seriously. That is what I took in and remebered in the space of 10 minutes. I then put it into a note on my phone, and saved it to publish on here. To be honest, I barely looked at that note to type this, it has stuck in my mind.

I know my mind works differently from a neurotypical one, but nobody can quite say much more than “it is wired differently”. Whether that is good or bad, we don’t know. What we can establish is that I have amazing recall, and my experience tells me that this is a common feature of having Asperger’s Syndome!

31 Jan 08 Police following

My instructor is rather curious about my AS; and that’s a good thing, I’d far rather have somebody ask me about it and how it affects me than read some generic book that is based on the diagnostic criteria in worst case. He was interested in medication, whether people on AS had it; personally, I don’t, nor am I aware of any, but I am aware of a few people with AS & AD/HD and I know they receive controlled drug Ritalin for their AD/HD. We chatted about the supported hall of residence, and he seemed quite shocked when I told him it had 30 staff on the books, with between 7 and 15 on any given shift.

A quick recap of last lesson, and seat change before starting. I completed the cockpit drill whilst chatting to my instructor about mobile phones (as I silenced mine), and how his daughter was attached to hers; I’m attached to mine, I admit, but she puts me to shame! It’s a good thing small talk comes fairly naturally to me, one of the few areas of socialising my AS has not affected.

This lesson, I moved up to third gear, and was expected to use my mirrors before preparing for any manouvre, in addition to checking them every few seconds whilst driving anyway! I also started to handle junctions correctly, stopping for closed ones, and slowing down for all of them; not something I like doing is slowing down. Still, I got used to the idea fairly quickly, that came in the form of following an articulated flatbed, complete with about 25 brake lights fitted to the rear of his cab… The next time I turned the bend to go down the bank, I noticed a white van pull out behind me, but I didn’t think anything of it. My instructor, however, did, “Matt, I would like you to take this corner perfectly, because there is a police van following us!” Now I re-checked my mirror, and noticed the large blue “POLICE” on the front of the vehicle.

As usual, I stalled a few times, once for doing such a stupid obvious mistake; stopping at a give way line, finding the biting point, applying some gas, but not remembering to change down from second to first. I was allowed to try moving off in second from a parked position, and needless to say, I couldn’t manage it! Overall, a very good lesson in my opinion, I definitely saw some improvements.