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honesty » 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.

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!

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!