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Internet » 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…

23 Mar 08 Meeting people online

Disclaimer: I do not condone any vulnerable person meeting anybody they know solely over the internet, unless it is supported by an appropriate adult and in a public place.

Disclaimer aside, I have been fairly stupid in that respect, and not just the once! Firstly, I’d known somebody on MSN for a number of years, I’d never met her, and she was 2 years younger than me, so I can appreciate what everybody said to me about it. But, I thought it would be alright, I knew a friend of hers through a drama group for Aspies. So, I set out to meet her in Newcastle, in one of the most public and easily escaped places I could think of – Central Station. We met, and spent the day together, and it all went well if I’m honest.

This weekend, I’ve been a total idiot on the matter. I know somebody on Facebook, who I got in touch with via the “HOTorNOT” system. I’ve been talking to her for about 9 months, and I like her, she’s really fun and friendly. She doesn’t particularly live anywhere near any of the three places I live, but where she lives is between two of them, and it’s close to a mate’s house.

So, with the “prized prat award” now almost certainly in my hands, I decided to ensure it would be mine. I only went and asked to meet her. And then tried to logically reason out why we should meet. And ended up making her cry, and rather annoyed at me. Not what I wanted. In one fell swoop I’d managed to both ruin 9 months of fun flirty online friendship and rule out any chance of us ever meeting. To make matters worse, I rang her (to apologise) when she had asked me not to ring. So bang went the respect and trust, too!

So, upon reflection, I was a stupid idiot, and shouldn’t have asked her. In the end, I felt rather crap because of it; almost wanting to cry.

My advice, don’t even think about meeting people you don’t live near. For those you do, and get on well with, and have spoken to on the phone, and have been able to verify as much as possible about them: only meet them in a very public place, and accompanied by a responsible appropriate adult!

04 Jan 08 Xmas holidays

I don’t celebrate xmas for religious reasons. I celebrate the commercial aspect of xmas. All of the student parties, workplace parties, and so on. I give presents to people who are special to me (or at least try to, in the case of a young lady at the local sector college).

But best of all, is the fact that I get to go home from the hall of residence. I spend some time with my Mother, and some time with my Grandmother (who lives at the other end of the country to my Mother). Of course, the extra money I get from the DLA does help matters…

Now this has got me thinking about what I can do during holidays that is different from what I can do when I’m at the hall of residence (under the care of the service provider). The most obvious one, and potentially the riskiest is that I travel independently via plane to see my Grandmother; that’s at least 1 hour in the airport (more when there are delays, which is often), then there’s 1 1/2 hours on the plane itself, and finally 1/2 an hour at the arrival airport to collect my luggage and meet whoever is picking me up. Other things I can do include access Newcastle city centre independently, for an arbitrary period of time, for an arbitrary purpose, whenever I would like to; I done this twice these holidays, once to finish my xmas shopping, and a second time to go and watch a film at the cinema.

I can, of course, meet up with my friends if I so wish. They could be male or female, and of any age. I remember it being only in September when the senior management of the service provider called me in for a meeting to remind me of things such as the sex offenders register and how the police operate, the reason: I had met a female friend, who happened to be 15, in the middle of Newcastle, on a Saturday during the preceding holiday period, with the full knowledgeable consent of my Mother (note: I was 17 at the time).

As for the internet? That’s completely unrestricted. I’m sitting here at my Grandmother’s house using my laptop wirelessly as I compose this post. I can use Facebook, and upload photographs, download music and generally do what normal teenagers do when they are at home. Yes, that does mean I use Windows Live Messenger a lot during the holidays!

Oh well, at the time of writing, it’s only 2 days until I fly back up to Sunderland and voluntarily walk into virtual imprisonment where harsh rule is imposed upon me again. In my “best interests” of course, because the service provider has a “duty of care” to me which they must follow. As my good friend Bekki once said “I prefer prison to here, you get more freedom when you’re there…

20 Dec 07 Social Networking

Being a typical teenager in this day and age, I regularly use websites such as Facebook, Bebo & MySpace. I use them to keep in touch with my old friends as well as colleagues from St John Ambulance, peers at college (both the specialist and local sector), and my family.

So it’s an understatement to say I was shocked when the service provider had installed filtering software on the network to prevent access to these particular websites. In my past, I was quite good at bypassing network restrictions (a skill I perfected at high school), and proceeded to do so; using little-known (found using Google) cgi proxy servers I was able to access Bebo and MySpace. Facebook, however, has a security restriction on its own servers which only enables you to login directly to their servers – cgi proxies are not allowed! Not that not being able to access Facebook at the specialist college bothers me too much; I have signed up to Facebook Mobile, which enables me to access most Facebook commands via a text message and my laptop is also registered with The Cloud, which convienently has a hotspot at the local sector college.

Being a curious young adult, I asked the member of staff in the IT suite why this had been put in place, and more importantly, why hadn’t the learners been informed of such change; remembering at this point Aspies do not cope with change very well, especially when they are not notified of the change. His explanation was much less than satisfactory, in that he had not been informed of the change, and neither had any of the senior staff on duty. Hiseducated guess was that some learners were extremely vulnerable when using such websites, and the filtering was in place to protect them; he then went on to explain equal opportunities and that if it has to be blocked for one leaner, it has to be blocked for all.

I had a problem with this equal opportunities idea. Quite a large problem at that. If we use the theory of “If one learner can’t, then no learner can“, the whole risk assessment system collapses. As an example, during all of my first year, my behaviour was considered too risky for me to be allowed to access the local city centre independently; but all of my mates were allowed into the local city centre independently. Why? They had completed a successful risk assessment to enable them to do so.

My argument was such that learners should be risk assessed to access social networking websites in exactly the same way that they are risk assessed to go out into the community independently, or self-administer their medication, or complete their weekly chores. My other main point was that at minimum a senior member of staff on duty should have a satisfactory explanation, at best there should have been a memo at least 7 days prior to the change taking place, in order that learners are aware of it.