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parents » 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 Mar 08 Parents’ Evening

I’m really proud of what I was told tonight by my two college tutors, both academically and socially. Most of all, they backed up what I’d been trying to tell the service provider for many months now.

Firstly, my Physics lecture expressed her disappointment at my latest exam result – a ‘b’. I was only 1 mark off an ‘a’, but 1 mark is too much to miss by! However, she is very happy with my work rate, informing my Mum that I am regularly provided with extra work which I always finish to a very high standard. My punctuality and attendance are excellent, both being 100%. Then my Mum asked about my social interaction, after explaining about my Asperger’s and how it affects me. And the lecturer was very positive, explaining I get on well with everybody, and help people when they ask me for it. I asked the direct question “Do you think that I need support in the class?” I was answered with a “No.” My Mum mentioned to us that she would bring up these comments at my forthcoming review in May.

Next, we went to Chemistry. Again, I was told by my very enthusiastic chemistry lecturer (he’s brilliant, bless him) that I perform to a very high standard in class and should not have any problems in achieving an ‘A’ for AS Chemistry. I was reminded of the deadline for the planning exercise, and advised to submit a draft of it soon, which of course I will. My lecturer then re-advertised his study clinics, which I admit to not having yet attended. The problem is that they fall when I’m usually with the specialist college in Sunderland. However, I did explain that I will be able to come in for the Tuesday session from the start of May, because it falls at good times for trains and I can miss about an hour of Duke of Edinburgh to revise a past module. I might attend the general study clinic over a Wednesday lunch leading into the exams, just to make sure I can do it all! Then, rather shockingly, he asked me about the trip to Nottingham; I was puzzled by this, because I’d explained to him that due to a lack of support I’d be unable to go. But, then, suddenly, an idea lit up!

I looked at my Mum, hinting at her to rapidly move the conversation onto my social skills in class, and support staff. “Matt makes fantastic contributions” he told her. He didn’t think I needed any support, even when I asked him to think carefully about my interactions with my two close mates. He did ask me about last Thursday’s support worker, because she appeared to be making a lot of notes. I explained in brief terms why, and then followed up with a question about if my behaviour or interaction with the person concerned was any different to how he normally sees me; historically, I can’t cope with what had happened. We agreed that I didn’t need any support; more to the point I was told I should be supporting the support worker!

As we left, and enjoyed some really nice food from the bake sale for Operation Wallacea (yeah, research, not a holiday, of course), my Mum told me that she wasn’t going to wait for my review and was instead going to send an email to the managers at the service provider, explaining her point of view based on the first-hand information she now has. I tried explaining my arguments for being allowed to go to Nottingham, but it was futile, she told me that there was no way even if she wanted to, because it leaves early on Monday morning, and I’m not back with the service provider until Sunday evening. I tried explaining about the lecturers saying I didn’t need support, and how I coped with everything over the weekend (I briefly appraised my Mum without going into any detail). But she wanted to take it small steps at a time; I countered that I’ve been saying I haven’t needed support for 5 months. But then she used the killer, the one truth that ties it all together, she knew there was somebody going that I fancy. I didn’t argue, except for to say I respect this person so much I can’t bring myself to even think of trying anything on! It was worth a shot, and I did have ulterior motives; a chance to talk with somebody for a short while away from college and any form of distraction would be brilliant, and I think very beneficial.

Anyway, I was really happy with the way things went; I only wish that I could have had one of my managers from the service provider there with my Mum! I’m really proud of what I have achieved at college this year, both academically and socially!

19 Mar 08 A Reminder

This week I have been continually reminded of what it is like to be a typical college student. That is, living at home with my parents, not being surrounded by other Aspies 24/7, and having the proper chance to do my homework and things.

It’s given me the opportunity to think about social issues at a pace I can handle, rather than trying to do it all in about 10 minutes. Of course, having so much time on my hands means that I have been over-analysing things; as an example today, I saw two of my friends from a distance on their way home, they were standing close together and looking at each other, after way too much analysis my mind decided it was perfectly, logically conceivable they were seeing each other and went to her house for some nookie over lunch. Ch’yeah, right, add some reality into that, and I know it’s nothing like that!

But in general, I’ve had a quiet undisturbed place (my room / my Mum’s office) to relax, open my laptop, and get on with my homework. At 7pm, straight after my tea. Trying to do that at halls is impossible, it’s expected that I take part in a social activity at 7:30pm each night! I’m sick of arguing that it isn’t normal to be out socialising every night, certainly not going to the same place about once a week; my experience is that my college mates might see their partners 2 or 3 nights a week. Maybe once a week go out getting drunk with their mates (not always at parties, think walking across fields, or going to gigs (basically no one type of activity more than twice per month). But whatever, they aren’t in the pub once a week, bowling once a week and at the cinema once a week without fail!

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to communicate in a way typical to a student. It’s not that I don’t; I can remember a very personal conversation with one of my college friends via mobile phone one night last November. But MSN messenger, it’s too often I’m reminded indirectly that my friends are talking on it. I’m not, the rather annoying hall of residence has done a number of things to stop it; they only allow us into the IT suite before 9pm, they banned it from the PCs, and they don’t let us have the internet in our rooms; despite some people recently purchasing USB 3G modems… Although I don’t have the internet in my room, I at least have access to MSN over the holidays, which is better than nothing! Having MSN gives me the chance to keep in touch with my old school mates. There’s one I like a lot, and she has great advice for me, but we only really talk over MSN. I just wish I had the balls to ask her for her number.

For some reason, that sounds all-too-similar to not having the balls to ask somebody I fancy for a coffee. Saying that, being at home (and thus needing weekly bus tickets) means that I can go into Newcastle when I feel like it. Therefore I have more confidence in saying “Fancying coming into town with me at the weekend”. I should, I can, but I won’t because I fear rejection; ah, teenage-male syndrome! I could, in theory, meet anybody I like anywhere I can get to on a bus. I usually do meet a few people in Newcastle over the holidays.

Now a thought to leave myself with: one of my (male) mates is having a sleepover for his 18th birthday. Thus equalling lots of alcohol, oh and a normal social situation for people my age. If I was based at home, and my Mum was fully & continually apprised of what’s been going on at college, I know that I’d be able to go. However, I’m with the service provider, so I don’t know whether I will be allowed to go…