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education » 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.

19 Mar 09 March results

Last week I got my results for my AS & A2 levels, and I was quite disappointed by what I got…

I resat 2 AS Chemistry modules, and each module went up by 1 mark – and, happily, each module went up by an entire grade. Unfortunately, that didn’t help my overall grade, which stayed at a C. My A2 Chemistry module, Chains Rings& Spectroscopy, was graded a C, so I’ve already handed my resit form.
At this particular moment in time, I need another 213 marks to get an overall A, from a possible 210, so some marks need to come from somewhere…

I also took an AS Mathematics module, Core 1, and got 71%, which is a B. I’m happy with that, it’s only 9 marks dropped from an A, which I hope to pickup from the next two exams in May/June – Core 2 and Stats 1.

So, I’m on track to do Biomedical Sciences, and I can easily make the offer, but I want more, if you know what I mean…

07 Mar 09 Suspended

At 9am yesterday, I went into one of the rooms at the specialist college to reclaim some travel expenses, and found that the person I wished to speak to wasn’t there. As I was waiting, I had a charming first-year student inform me “Boo hoo, Emily isn’t here, what are you going to do?” Followed by a couple of other patronising remarks. I calmly walked round to him, and in a joking-style, said to him “this is what I’m going to do!” And I lightly clipped him across the top of his head – no different to how I interact with some other people, it’s just part of me…

Anyways, this student doesn’t react initially, but a lovely female support worker then informs me that “You shouldn’t hit other students,” and I explained that wasn’t hitting, it was a light slap across his head, with no force involved. She repeated her information, and then the student started to join in – except he wasn’t quite so friendly, “F**k off out of this f**king room!”

Then, the lovely staff member advises me to leave. I ignore her, because I don’t make a habit of following staff direction when they basically repeat what a student has told me to do. I get about three more requests out of the pair of them, before the student threatens me, “F**k off out of this room, or I’ll f**king drag you out!” I move into the middle of the room, where there is space to defend myself, but before I have a chance to prepare for a block, the staff member has put herself in the way, and the student assaults her as she blocks him.

Then, I’m told that I must see the College Co-Ordinator before I leave – but as I’m pressed for time, I give her 60 seconds, and tell her to ring me for any information, or if there are any developments. Next thing I hear is my Mum ringing me at 1pm, to tell me that the service provider has rang my step-dad (at work) to tell him that there has been an incident and that there will be a meeting. I then rings the college co-ordinators office to find out who rang my parents, and why they didn’t inform me – both of them denied ringing them…

After a day out at GFE College, I went back to be informed that I’m now about to walk into a Stage 5 Disciplinary meeting (the highest it can go without involving an external agency), and immediately request time with my advocate. My advocate then refuses to read my statement of events, and tells me that she is there solely to check I understand what is being said. During this meeting I’m told that I’m suspended from the service provider, and that

29 May 08 Practical Panicking

I’ve been reading blogs again, as you do. As usual, it was Nickopotablog, and he was talking about exams and how stressful they are. That reminded me to write this, something I’ve been planning to do for about a fortnight now!

Back on Monday 12th May, I had my AS Chemistry practical examination. As predicted, this involved a titration of sorts, starting off with mixing a homogenous solution of acid. Nothing new there then, it’s the ‘bread and butter’ of secondary school chemistry lessons. One would like to say “impossible to fail”, however, I had somehow lost the better of my senses, and managed to screw it up. What’s worse is that I actually knew I screwed up; because I’ve done similar practicals, and know many different methods of calculating things like basicity, molar mass, percentage composition, and so on.

At this point, I should possible I’d spend most of Saturday at a party, getting rather drunk, so it can’t have done wonders for my brain cells…

The mixing of the homogenous solution was easy; I recorded the masses, calculated concentrations, and so on. I wrote up my table perfectly, and noted the data for the alkali. I carried out some very accurate titrations, and obtained a correct, accurate mean titre. I then set forth on the analysing steps, following the prescribed method to calculate the basicity of the acid. And then, I got the wrong answer, in fact my answer wasn’t even on the paper, so I had to pick the best of the bunch. But, because I’d noted the correct data into the tabulations at the start, I knew the answer I was looking at had to be wrong.

So, I went through, three more times, and still got the wrong answer. What could I do, apart from look at it in sheer frustration?

Now, I’ll explain this from an Aspie’s perspective, highlighting extra causes of stress.

Firstly, the examination was conducted in an unfamiliar laboratory (change one), with new equipment having been bought for the exam (change two). Then there were some unfamiliar invigilators (change three), and a technician the class had never spoken to (change four) aside from when he’d shouted at us some mumbo-jumbo about the costs of breaking equipment! Oh, and not being able to talk to your mates increases the stress factor too!

Also, not being able to use your own method for things (ie having examiners break the paper into separate calculation stages) may confuse people, or else cause them to get the wrong answers…

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.

28 Apr 08 Absolutely ridiculous

Further to my predictions about meeting my friend to help her revise, I was still completely stunned at the response the service provider had for me. Like I said, I wasn’t going to tell them before I met her, because they would say no. I am, however, an honest person, and therefore I decided to tell my manager what I’d done. He was disappointed that I hadn’t told him what I was doing beforehand. Furthermore, this was to be the subject of an MDT meeting, and he felt unable to advocate for me.

Being a fair and reasonable bloke, he ensured that I would be given the opportunity to attend this meeting and voice my own opinions and arguments. Naturally, when senior staff get together, my opinion is considered irrelevant, although it is normally listened to. This time, I was called into the meeting to be told that they had made some decisions. Before I’d even sat down, I was already extremely angry with my manager, the deputy principal, the college manager and the psychologist.

They told me that they could not support me meeting my friend in town because she was only 15. I interrupted, saying that I’d known her for 3 years, we get on well, she is comfortable with everything, and that I am aware of what I’m doing. I tried asking if she could come to the hall of residence, and I could see her in a communal area with staff present. Or not, as the management pointed out the obvious child protection implications of having a 15 year old female unknown to the service in the presence of a male support worker in their building.

So, to deter me from meeting her in town, they then went on to point out the legal implications. What if she accused me of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or even rape? Because, as they pointed out, raping a 15 year old would make me a paedophile. That, and being on the sex offenders register would mean I couldn’t follow my career ambition of being a doctor (doesn’t this sound so familiar?). Then they went on to ask if her mother knew she had met me, and how old I was.

I was infuriated, because I do not wish to have sexual relations with my friend. I want to help her through her exams, and spend time with her. As far as I am concerned, I’m doing what most teenage friends are doing right now – helping each other revise for upcoming exams and spending time with each other.

Basically, the only reason they have as to why I can’t be allowed to meet her is that she is a 15 year old female. That, to me, is not a reason in itself.
And do you think it will stop me – no!