Things People Say That Drive Autistic People NUTS!

You don’t look autistic.

Is autism supposed to have a look?

When a person says, ‘You don’t look autistic’, it’s fairly obvious they don’t have a blithering clue what autism is. Maybe they watched Rain Man and believe that every autistic person looks like Dustin Hoffman?

Or, that you should be wearing a skull guard helmet..

In all fairness, people probably think they are paying you a compliment (ish) but what they are actually doing is belittling the difficulties that you face on a daily basis. Also, in that person’s eyes it puts you above other autistic people (such as those who do wear protective head gear) because you can pass for ‘normal’ and they can’t.

Here’s the thing..

I don’t consider myself to be better (or less) than any other autistic person.

I don’t consider myself better (or less) than any neurotypical person.

We are all human beings.

You’re obviously high-functioning.

If by high functioning you mean I can speak, dress myself, take myself to the toilet and do housework? Yes, I can do those things.. However, to me, the term ‘highly functioning’ implies that I can do things WAY better than the average person.

A super functioner?

Where’s my cape and tights?!

Super strength? FUNCTIONING.

The reality is that a good day requires a LOT of effort and some days I struggle to function at all. When I am overwhelmed, I stop functioning aside the very basics needed to keep my family and myself alive. I shut down. I can’t speak. I can’t read beyond a single sentence. I can’t complete simple tasks like washing the dishes or folding laundry. My brain buffers, then freezes and it can take days for it to unravel itself. I have to spend hours on my own in order for this to happen.

Last night, I was in bed for 7pm.

I’m 47!

Would you say this is functioning highly?

What’s 97865 multiplied by 98?

Why do some people assume that autistic people are math geniuses?  I can’t stand the motherfudging subject!

My dislike (bordering on the pathological) of mathematics started in 1975 with the words ‘add and take away’.

I’ve been hyperventilating ever since..

I can give you the answer, but I’ll need a calculator.

In contrast, The Boy could recite his entire 12 times table at the age of 4. He likes maths – the weirdo.

What medication do you take for it?

I don’t take medication for my autism because it’s NOT A FARKING ILLNESS!!

I do, however, take medication for migraines, arthritis and the general aches and pains which comes from being an old fart.

Autism is an excuse for bad behaviour.

Autistic people don’t choose to have meltdowns.

They don’t wake up and think, ‘You know what? I REALLY fancy losing my shit today. Toast, anyone?’

It’s not a nice feeling to lose control, whether it manifests outwardly or internally. It is a reaction to overwhelming situations and having to use up so much energy trying to survive in an overwhelming world.

It’s EXTREME ANXIETY, not bad behaviour.

My sister’s friend’s brother is autistic. You’re nothing like him.

Firstly, I don’t have the necessary parts to be like your sister’s friend’s brother.

Secondly, no two autistic people are the same – just as no two NT people are the same.

Autistic people have similarities but all have different abilities and strengths. That said, we do share one thing in common, which is that each and every one of us is FABULOUSLY AWESOME!

You’re married, can hold down a job, have children. How can you do these things if you’re autistic?

With a great deal of effort, cocker.

I drive as well! Fancy that? An autistic person being let loose on the roads. QUELLE HORREUR!

P.S 25 + years of driving. No points. No parking tickets.

I also manage to drive AND lick the windscreen at the same time.

You’ve just been sarcastic. YOU CAN’T BE AUTISTIC!!!!!

I do irony too.

You’re a person with autism. You should use first language.

I am autistic. I am an autistic person. My autism defines me otherwise I wouldn’t be me.

Here, I can only speak for myself as some autistic people wouldn’t thank you for calling them autistic. They would be up in your face faster than you can fart. Having said that, the majority of autistic people use the term ‘autistic person’.

Incidentally, I saw a Facebook thread where the parent of an autistic teenager was having a mini-rant about people using the word ‘Aspie’ because it’s insulting, apparently.

The fact is that most people with Aspergers, refer to themselves as an Aspie.

I refer to myself as an Aspie but primarily I am an autistic person.

 

You can look me in the eye. You can’t be autistic!

Technically, I’m looking above your pupil but it’s such a subtle thing, you’re unlikely to be aware of it. As a child, I spent hours standing in the corner at school for being ‘rude’ and not looking at the teacher. I wasn’t EVER being rude. It distressed me to look people in the eye, so, technically, I was abused by every teacher who ever punished me for not doing it.

It’s taken decades for me to be able to maintain eye contact with people other than my immediate family and even now, when I am anxious, I will spend more time looking at your feet than your face. I have to remind myself to look up occasionally.

Yes, I can look you in the eye – sort of – and I am autistic.

 

 

Among Angels..

According to a recent (ish) poll, one in ten people in the UK believe in angels.

Christmas is hurtling towards us an alarming rate so it seems apt to do one or two posts about angels.

There is a plethora of information about angels but perhaps one of the best advocates for the winged-ones is Lorna Byrne.

I’ve always been in two minds whether or not Lorna is certifiably insane? I mean, this lady has conversations with angels on a daily basis and has been seeing them since she was a baby. Yet she appears to be as sane as you or I.

Well you, anyway..

Lorna sees angels as physically as she sees everybody else and is of the opinion that everybody has at least one angel with them at all times. At this point, people usually ask, ‘Well, if that’s true, how come people get hurt or get ill? Why don’t their angels save them?’

Other people ask where their ‘car parking’ angel is when they need them?

“I drove round the Tesco car-park THREE SODDING TIMES. Where was my effing angel?!!”

Having a doze?

Saving a beached whale?

How the heck am I supposed to know?!

What I do know is that for every atrocity that happens – there some people who ‘miraculously survive’ and those who die horribly.

This is what I struggle with when it comes to the concept of angels.

One answer is that angels do appear to intervene where there is danger but not in every instance. It doesn’t seem fair that some people are saved and not others. Are some lives worth more than others? I don’t think so, yet this is how life is. The problem is that we don’t understand how all this works. People just assume that angels don’t exist for the same reason that some people reject the idea of God – because people suffer.

I have had a few ‘near misses’ in my time and when I say near miss, I mean that I have NO idea how I came out of these things alive..

The first incident was when an old (and extremely heavy) door fell on top of me when I was about four years old. I was rooting about in that forbidden area (the garage) and it fell on top of me. My parents couldn’t understand why I wasn’t dead or at the very least, a cabbage. Yet all I suffered was a small scratch on my nose.

Another incident was when I was driving home from work one day. I was doing 50 mph and an articulated lorry pulled out on me. I braked but my car kept on going, skidding onto the wrong side of the road.

Miraculously, there were no cars coming in the other direction.

It could have been a LOT worse.

It should have been a lot worse because it happened during the rush hour on a road that junctioned onto the M6 motorway – one of the busiest in the country.

All this happened in a matter of seconds yet I remember three things.

One – Time slowed right down.

Two – My life flashed before me.

Third – I felt protected.

Those were occasions where, by rights, I should have been seriously injured at least. Maybe it was just my good luck. Or maybe someone was looking out for me?

On another occasion, my eldest son (then about 16) came out of the local shop and stepped off the pavement into the road. He later told me, “I felt someone pull me roughly back onto the pavement. I looked around but there was NOBODY there. I thought it was one of my mates playing silly buggers. At that moment, a car came speeding round the corner. Had I have carried on across the road, the car would have hit me for sure”.

I also had a bizarre experience one day when my car broke down. These were the days before mobile phones and I had my elderly mother in law with me and a boot full of shopping. The place where I broke down was quite a distance from the nearest working phone-box and there were no houses either. My dilemma was that I had to leave my MIL in the car on her own while I went to get help as there was no way she could come with me. Just as I was starting to panic, a car drew in behind us and a man came to the window asking if I needed help. I could have kissed him! I explained the situation and he offered us (and the shopping) a lift back to MILs house.

The man looked to be in his 60s and had the kindest (and bluest) eyes I’d ever seen and I instinctively felt safe, as if he was someone I’d known all my life. Normally, I am suspicious of people.

He drove us to MILS house and helped me to carry the shopping in..

Nothing strange thus far but here’s where it gets funky…

We’d taken the last bags inside the house and I turned to thank him and offer him a cuppa but he’d gone.

I looked outside and his car was gone too. I know this sounds unbelievable but there simply wasn’t the time for the bloke to put the shopping bag down, walk out of the door, get into his car, drive off, without me seeing him.

I know what you’re thinking but no, he hadn’t nicked anything and SHAME ON YOU FOR THINKING IT!

What happened was impossible.

Some time later, I read an article about angels which led me to do some extensive research of my own and a few details consistently cropped up in people’s accounts:

These ‘angels’ appeared out of nowhere when people desperately needed help.

  • They generally had kind (and very blue) eyes.
  • There was a sense of peaceful and calming energy.
  • They buggered off quicker than is humanly possible.

So angels drive do they?

Apparently so.

My question is how do they get around the tax and insurance?

Why do they appear as humans then? Why not just appear in all their winged glory?

Well, I for one would have shit myself had a seven foot bird person revealed themselves to me in front of my Peugeot. As for my mother-in-law, she’d already had one heart attack. The shock would have finished her off, defo.

Even if you think my story is about as believable as Wayne Rooney’s weave, there is no denying the mountain of evidence to support the existence of these beings known as angels.

Personally, I don’t believe it’s an angel’s job to save every person on the planet. Granted, it would be great if only the ancient among us died after long and gloriously happy lives but the reality is that the planet would be vastly overcrowded and we would become extinct.

Maybe angels do warn us but it’s our free will to heed or ignore the whispers?

Maybe it’s gut instinct not to travel on a certain road, or catch a certain train?

Or maybe it’s a whisper from an angel?

I see an angel’s job as one who comforts and guides. Who’s to say that when bad things happen they are not comforting someone to the very end? So maybe they can’t always save lives but comforting someone in their final minutes? That’s a very special thing, no?

One of the problems is that we don’t understand life. We don’t understand why good people die young and utter twats live to ripe old ages. If you believe that everything is chance and life is meaningless, then you have no problem. For those of us who don’t fit with that concept – there is confusion.

That said, I think that when we die, we will understand pain and suffering.

We will understand the whole damn thing.

It’s just that it’s incomprehensible to us in human form.

The other problem is some of us struggle with things that can’t be scientifically measured. There is no proof, therefore it doesn’t exist. Experience convinces you. While there is no definitive proof that angels exist, there is an abundance of evidence and in any court of law evidence stands for something.

I like Lorna’s Byrne’s theory that our guardian angels are always with us. That said, I hope mine averts their eyes when I’m perched on the loo or in the shower because, well – dignity.

Do you believe in angels?

Some things are true whether you believe in them or not ~ Nicholas Cage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s The Freakiest Show..

My big brother was into the 1970s glam-rock scene, I mean, he had the platforms and everything.. He looked a div, but then what teenage boy didn’t look a div in the 70s?

For what’s it’s worth, I also looked a div – only I didn’t have any choice in the matter.

Anyway, it’s from rooting through his records that I came across the phenomenon that was David Bowie..

Being born in 1970 rendered me too young to appreciate the glam rock scene first time around. However, I didn’t have to wait too long because it made a comeback in the 80s with the likes of Def Leppard, Poison and Kiss – only with less glitter and more hair. Oh. And the flares were replaced by skin-tight, testicle-trapping jeans which of course helped them to reach those high notes..

WHOOOOOOOOO-YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH

Of all the records of the glam rock era, Life on Mars is my favourite.

Bowie labeled Life on Mars, “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media” and added, “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

I know how she feels..

Reality sucks. You spend nine months in the womb being prepared for your big entry into the world only to reach the age of five when you start school and your world turns phenomenally crap.

Yes, I know how that girl feels..

Life on Mars was released as a single in 1973. I was three years old and still wearing plastic pants. So it’s fair to say that while I no doubt heard it on the radio (or saw it on TOTP) I wasn’t into it until a few years later..

First, I fell in love with Mick Ronson’s orchestral arrangement because, lets face it, it’s EFFING AWESOME! Then came my obsession with the lyrics (also awesome) and all these years later, it STILL does things to me insides..

When it comes to the lyrics, the song is somewhat ambiguous but I identify with Bowie’s description because, like the girl, I am also at odds with reality. I see life as one big freak show.

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show

Bowie started out ordinary enough, apart from his freaky eye, but Mrs Bowie knew that his image was a bit crap so she turned him into the spiky red awesomeness that was ‘Ziggy Stardust’. He made weird, cool, and all the misfits and weirdos whooped with joy and bought all his records. He was like something out of space – which was kind of the idea. Nobody knew what the fuck he was. Was he male, female or alien?

Bowie wasn’t my dad’s cup of tea, as I imagine was the case with a lot of other parents of the time. Dad’s nervous cough would kick in when Ziggy beamed up via the gogglebox during those early years but he settled down once Dave brought out Lets Dance and ‘that one he did with Jagger’, got the Dad stamp of approval too.

Bowie has been a constant in some form or other since Ziggy. I almost had a coronary when the TV series Life on Mars was screened in 2006. Great plot. The legend what is ‘The Gene Genie’ (Gene Hunt) and a cracking 1970s soundtrack, including Life on Mars which was used a LOT. What’s not to like?

For those of you unfamiliar with Life on Mars.. the plot is is that Sam Tyler has an accident in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 wearing flares and driving a Cortina. The tagline is, Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.

I just hope to God I never suffer a head trauma and wake up in 1983 wearing a ra-ra skirt and legwarmers!

So, if I had to choose ONE song to listen to before I die, it would be Life On Mars. I want my life force to ebb away to this song but knowing my luck, it will be Justin Bieber and I will die with my middle finger stuck up in mid-air.

There is something satisfyingly poetic about Mick Ronson’s melodic string arrangements to Life on Mars being the last piece of music I ever hear before I depart this shit-hole planet. I am the girl with the mousey hair, or at least I used to be before I started dyeing the crap out of it, and I very much want this to be my swansong. Family, take note.

Finally, a bit o’ trivia for you..

The string arrangement for Life on Mars was written in a TOILET.

Genius.

Laughter As Therapy

Some of the most saddest people on earth are also the funniest. Funny, that.

Spike Milligan

Stephen Fry

Robin Williams

Jim Carrey

Paul Merton

Catherine Tate

David Walliams

Ruby Wax

Caroline Aherne

Kenneth Williams

All have had a depressive disorder.

I can understand how some people would struggle with the concept of funny people being depressed but the fact is that being funny doesn’t necessarily mean being happy. Humour is often a way of coping with life and the shit it throws at you – a defence mechanism, if you like..

I write funny posts. Correction, I try to write funny posts as well as serious ones but you may have noticed that even my funny ones are sometimes about difficult subjects? It’s a release for me. The sting of a bad memory isn’t quite as sharp when I’m putting a humourous spin on it. That said, some things just aren’t funny and never will be.

Humour was a lifeline to me when I was growing up. Watching comedy like The Kenny Everett Show or The Young Ones went some way to lifting my mood after yet another diabolically crap day at school. I laughed so hard I was in actual pain and sometimes my laughter bordered on the hysterical – which was a bit freaky – but I think it was in lieu of the tears that I hadn’t cried at school. That’s my theory, anyway.

Or I am indeed certifiable?

 

For me, the humour is there but it gets lost in translation if I try to verbalise it, so I write it down. I’m funnier on paper, or screen, in my case as I HATE writing with a passion. Maybe if I’d have been able to make people laugh at school, I wouldn’t have been bullied so much? As it was, I did make them laugh. The problem is that they were laughing at me, instead of with me.

Research shows that children laugh about 300 times a day whereas adults only laugh around 15 times a day.

I have laughed three times today. THREE!

This needs addressing, no?

Humour is medicine.

Write that down and stick it on your fridge door or laptop.

The sciencey bit..

Physical Benefits of Laughter

  • Improves brain and heart function
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Boosts immune system
  • We create disease – fighting antibodies
  • Increases oxygen levels in the blood
  • We heal faster

The way I see it, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting this to the test. So instead of putting on a film that makes you sad or on edge – put on a comedy.

Buy yourself a funky notepad (with unicorns on it, if that’s your bag) and rate how you feel, before and after the film.

Think of laughter as therapy. No, I don’t mean the kind of therapy where you sit in a circle and laugh like sodding hyenas for no reason at all. I mean funny books, films and TV.

I’ll give you three examples of what tickles my funny bone..

The 86 Fix by Keith A Pearson

It’s hard to believe this is Keith’s debut but it is and it’s hilarious. If you’re a certain age – you’ll need a change of pants or Tena pad.

It’s basically about mid-life, time travel and the 1980s. That ticks three of my boxes. It was most probably written with male readers in mind but I generally find male humour funnier than female so it works for me.

When it comes to films, Blazing Saddles is up there with the VERY best. There is a little high-pitched fart part way through and I usually lose it at that point. If you can watch this scene and not laugh, you’re dead to me.

Last of all we come to TV..

Dinnerladies is one of my all time favourite comedy programmes. Victoria Wood was a comedy genius. She was an observer of northern life and could take the mundane and make it knicker-wettingly funny. Victoria took her ‘flaws’ and made them funny. Her death was such a huge loss to the world of comedy but it’s the likes of her that inspire me to put a humorous spin on my own life.

This scene NEVER fails to make me laugh.

My examples may not be your cup of tea. The point is that there is something out there to suit everybody’s taste. So get looking and get laughing ha ha ha?

“Do you do sugar free muesli?”
“No. This is a canteen, not a ground sheet at Glastonbury.” ~ Dinnerladies

 

 

 

Dancing With Myself

 

I have memories of dancing around the living room as a child. Even though I was (and still am) disturbingly uncoordinated – the freedom of movement was liberating. It didn’t matter that I looked like a div because nobody could see me.

Thing is, I am profoundly affected by music. Sounds wanky? Fair enough. However, it is a scientific fact that humans are hardwired to respond to music. Music is important. I mean, can you imagine films without soundtracks? Imagine Renton legging it down the street in Trainspotting without Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life. Or how about Jaws without the ‘duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun’? Of course not. Films would be shit without music.

Life would be shit without music.

The Notorious G.O.D once said, ‘Yo knuckle-dragging peeps, 55,000 years from now your ancestors will be stressed off their tits and up to their eyeballs in something called ‘debt’ but they will have Coldplay and Radiohead.

Music was always playing in our house so many of my memories are evoked by songs. For instance, when I hear Ella Fitzgerald, I see Mum standing in the kitchen – pinny on – preparing Sunday dinner and it’s like she’s still with me somehow..

Mum ~ Circa 1975

As a teenager I went to a disco on Wednesday and Sunday nights.

YOU?!

Yes. ME!

Discos are usually avoided like the plague by the socially and sensory challenged. However, it was one of those situations where being social was a necessary evil if I wanted to experience music at a volume that would give my parents coronaries. You get this, right?

The routine was that I’d wake up on Wednesday morning (dry heaving) and I’d talk myself out of going. Then I’d get home from school – play my music – and it would give me a confidence injection. So I’d spend three hours faffing with my hair and troweling the make-up on and in the end I would look as far removed from me as I could be. Think actress and stage, rather than girl and disco..

Discos also meant BOYS.

I educated myself on how to be a girl and do boy/girl stuff because I was interested in boys, I just knew I couldn’t be myself or they would leg it faster than their Adidas trainers could carry them.

My research came in the form of teen magazines but the stories annoyed me because they were all ‘Wendy stared dreamily at Lee but he didn’t know she even existed. How could she get him to notice her?’. After a few pages of cringeworthy crap, Wendy gets a makeover at her mate’s house and Lee suddenly acknowledges her existence by snogging her in a graffiti filled bus stop which smells like a urinal. The end.

All this seemed ridiculous to me but apparently this was what was expected of girls if they wanted to attract boys? I did manage to attract a few boys because I remember kissing a random teenage lad to The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s version. I don’t even think I knew his name before I started attacking his tonsils. Another lad (WHO WORE WHITE SLIP-ON SHOES FFS) bought me a Coke and I snogged him as a way of thanks. Snogging didn’t involve talking, you see. I understand that other female Aspies might identify with this?

Music was a drug to me and I needed my weekly fix of this ‘sound experience’. That’s an experience of sound – not Scouse lingo.

I was a disco junkie.

Sort of.

Because it wasn’t about the socialising. Nor did I need alcohol (not that they served it anyway being an under 18s disco) because I got my high from the bass sound which vibrated in my body. The anomaly is that loud noise usually affects me adversely. I cover my ears if a police car goes past. Loud music though? TURN IT UP!

Perhaps it’s no surprise that I have to wear a hearing aid now?

Anyway, combined with the lights (which fascinated me) I’d have been in heaven if it wasn’t for the other humans. My perfect disco? Just me, the music and lights. You can bugger the DJ right off too. I’ll pick my own tunes. Maybe that’s what my heaven will be? My own personal discotheque and yes, I AM old enough to remember the word, ‘discotheque’.

Spear of Destiny’s Liberator (Indie Rock) was played with full strobe light effects and I’d stand there with my mouth hanging open as if a UFO had just landed in the middle of the dance floor. Another anomaly is that, normally, lights affect me – especially fluorescent – but I LOVED THE STROBE! Couldn’t cope with it now (migraines) but in those days it just hyped me up with a similar effect as when you used to give kids E numbers..

The other thing about Liberator was that on hearing the intro, people would literally skid onto the dance floor and start jumping up and down like lunatics. You didn’t dance to Liberator. You shrugged your shoulders aggressively or swung your handbag round your head like a lasso. Plus, being in close proximity to other people meant you were always bumping into someone, like when I bumped into an older girl and demolished her glass of Coke. WHOOPS! Her mates helpfully inquired whether or not she was going to kick my face in?

‘I’M GOING TO KNOCK YOU OUT, COW!’, the girl informed me (aggressively) before flicking me the V sign.

She was probably all frosted lipstick and no action but I wasn’t in the mood to find out, so I legged it to the toilets as fast as my 6″ sling-backs would allow me..

At the end of the night, saliva would be swapped along with phone numbers. The lights would go on and the bouncers would start herding us towards the exits. To me, it was always a massive anti-climax to see the room devoid of it’s magic because the reality was that the dance floor was strewn with broken glass and fag-ends and it looked crap. It was like going to bed with Sean Bean and waking up with Worzel Gummidge. 😦

Once I got married and had children – going to a disco became a rarity. As life put more pressures on me, I became more and more unable to cope with social situations of any kind, let alone discos. I couldn’t recreate those years where the music would override my issues, so I stopped going. Once I was on my own, I would draw the curtains, put a record on and dance, or at least, my interpretation of dancing. Why do you think I drew the curtains?

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped dancing. I just know that I did. And now my bones are buggered so throwing myself around the living room is no longer an option. Not with my arthritis, dears. However, music is (and always will be) in my soul and the day I am no longer moved by it will be the day that I go to that great disco in the sky where the music never ends and God is a DJ.

That’s a reference to a song, by the way.

Until then, as Shannon once said, “Let the music play”.

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ~ Dumbledore ~ Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone

 

 

 

 

 

Never Say Die

Some people come into your life for a moment, a day, or for a lifetime.

It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life at that time.

Dear Chris,

I saw your name on social media and clicked on it fully expecting to see you smiling back at me. Instead, I saw an account remembering your life. For a few seconds, I wondered if it was some kind of joke?

Then I read your obituary..

At the age of 45, you were gone.

Our paths first crossed in 1981 when I started a new school. You were a lovely looking boy with twinkling eyes and a great sense of humour. Everybody liked you. Even the weirdos, like me. You made people laugh simply by being you. You didn’t pick on me like the rest of the boys and you’d never join in with the name-calling. In fact, you’d have a go at them and tell them not to be so ‘tight’ on me. That got you some flack, not that it bothered you.

I’ve never forgotten your kindness.

I never will.

By 1985 a friendship had developed between us. Not boyfriend and girlfriend. Just a two friends who shared a love of heavy metal music. You’d walk home with me after school and I felt safe when I was with you because I knew the others wouldn’t try anything while you were there. Some girls have knights in shining armour. My knight wore scuffed shoes and a blazer.

One of the first records I borrowed from you was Axe Attack which I played over and over again much to my parent’s annoyance. If I remember correctly, my Black Sabbath LP – Never Say Die – was originally yours?

When it felt as though the world was against me – you made a difference. You were a shining light in a very dark world – not that you were ever aware just how deeply I was affected by the bullying.

Nobody did, except me.

No doubt you continued to light up people’s worlds as you went through your life. You had a lovely wife and two handsome boys. I’m so sorry they’ve lost you when you had so much more to give. To lose you at such a young age is cruel. It seems so unfair that evil people live to an old age and so many good people die too young..

This is where I struggle with God.

This is where I question. why?

Why you?

You will always be the boy with the spiky hair and a twinkle in his eye.

That’s how I will remember you.

I can see you now – big grin on your face. 15 forever, eh?

I hope that your heaven plays non-stop rock music and you get to watch over your family until they can be with you again. When I eventually get my arse up there – be sure to say hi won’t you?

Chris, I don’t believe that we ever really die and so it’s seems apt to dedicate this record to you.

Thanks for being my friend.

 

 

 

Hate Crime and Autism

Hate crime against autistic people happens because of ignorance and prejudice. I have a theory that some people only have to hear the world ‘autism’ and they immediately think of American high school massacres where the shooters happened to be autistic.

Take Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) for example.

Obviously, what Lanza did was unforgivable – not to mention inexcusable – but here’s the thing: being autistic did NOT made him a murderer.

Adam Lanza allegedly had a mental illness that had gone untreated. He was also suffering from malnutrition as a result of anorexia. Malnutrition causes brain damage. He’d also been bullied, rejected and isolated for the majority of his school life. One of the most important factors of all? His gun enthusiast mother taught him to shoot at an early age and he had access to guns. This is one hell of a toxic mix, no? There are numerous factors as to why he became a mass murderer but the one thing that some people focus on is the fact that he was autistic.

The fact is that after the story about Adam Lanza broke, young autistic people were bullied, especially online.

This is how ignorant people can be.

The truth is that an autistic person is more likely to commit suicide (or be murdered by a family member) than mass murder.

Why do autistic people commit suicide?

“These are individuals who have been struggling all their lives to fit in,” “Along the way, they have really been suffering.” ~ Simon Baron-Cohen – professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in the U.K

Why? Because society won’t allow them to be themselves. Autistic people are put under enormous pressure to adapt to society in order to fit in and to conform.

Getting back to mass murder – most school ‘shooters’ are Caucasian males. So, if every autistic boy is a potential mass murderer, then this must mean that every Caucasian boy who goes to school is also potential mass murderer, right? Of course not. So why would people think that a child is likely to go off on a murderous spree just because they’re autistic?

Because they are f**king idiots, that’s why.

A mass murderer may well be autistic but that doesn’t mean that it’s the cause of the crime anymore than being Caucasian, having blue eyes or wearing a Nirvana tee shirt is.

“Correlation does not imply causation.”

One problem the autistic community has is irresponsible journalists mentioning mass murder and autistic in the same sentence. The two are linked together and what we have are ignorant people who think that just because a child is autistic – they are potential murderers. So when a boy is known to be autistic, what chance does he have? He’s autistic, therefore he’s a danger to all the NT kids?

My son is eight years old and he’s autistic. He’s one of the loveliest and kindest people I have ever known. He likes to make people laugh. His friends matter to him. When those friends reject him, it hurts him deeply and he can’t express that hurt in words, so he lashes out or he harms himself.

He’s not an angel. He can be rude. He can be grumpy but what 8/9 year old child isn’t?

Earlier this year he came home from school and he’d been having meltdowns. He had another one at home only this time he was self-harming – banging his head against the wall. We eventually learned that one of his friends had told him that they were forbidden to play with him. Why? Because he’d given this child some of his money to buy a snack. The child’s parents interpreted this as my son trying to ‘buy their child’s friendship’.

What?!

He doesn’t understand the concept of bribery.

He was being kind because he cared about his friend.

NEWSFLASH – autistic people do have empathy.

My son broke his heart in front of me.

“I hate myself, Mummy”

I don’t blame the child in question but I do hold the parents accountable for my son’s epic meltdown that day. I don’t know about you, but I would be absolutely mortified if I knew that a child had self-harmed because of something I’d said or done.

The depressing fact is that the leading cause of premature death in autistic people is suicide. If society changes their attitude towards us, that statistic will change. As an autistic person, I understand it. As the mother of an autistic boy – it terrifies me.

Research suggests that autistic boys (especially those with aspergers) from the age of 10 years up are more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and attempts to take their own lives. Sadly, some succeed, like 11 year old Shane who killed himself as a result of being bullied because he was autistic.

Those who bullied him didn’t directly kill him but they abused him to the point that he felt life wasn’t worth living. It’s hate crime. They are accountable as far as I am concerned. Yet they are free to grow up and get on with their lives. Sound fair to you?

“Shane was a fighter. He made everyone he met happy. He put a smile on their faces. He was extremely intelligent in science, history and any type of animals and their habitats. He had a huge, loving heart (Tammy Laycock – Shane’s mother)

Going back to journalists..

Bethalto boy struggled with autism before killing himself.

Lets be clear here. This boy did not ‘struggle with autism’ before he killed himself. He struggled with how he was treated by staff and children at his school. Had they have treated him with the kindness and respect he deserved, do you honestly think he would have chosen to kill himself?

Autism didn’t kill this beautiful little boy. Prejudice, ignorance and intolerance killed him.

My son won’t become a statistic if I have anything to do with it. For me, the fight starts here. At 8 years of age he is unhappy because of the actions of a few people. The latest being an incident when we were verbally assaulted in the street. The tirade was aimed at me but it was about my son and he happened to be stood next to me listening to every word..

“Why don’t you have some self respect and remove him from school”

This coming from someone who was EPICALLY losing their shit in the street in front of their own child?

“Your son’s a bully”

Obviously I’m not supposed to get irony because I’m autistic (we do sarcasm too) but here is a person who is verbally abusing me and my son in the street and who is also making a concerted effort to get him kicked out of school because he’s ‘a bully’ despite there being no actual evidence for it.

He’s not a bully. He’s a vulnerable child.

So tell me. Who’s the bully?

I reported the incident to the police and the person got a caution and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

My son isn’t Adam Lanza. Nor is any other autistic boy. I wish that people would educate themselves about autism instead of reading sensationalised news stories written by irresponsible journalists.

I will fight for my son’s right to live in this world free of fear because it’s his world too.

Because when it comes to my offspring I will fight with the fangs of a wolf and the claws of a dragon. And no one, or nothing will stop me from protecting them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empty Wombs: Menopause and Infertility

I was struggling to think of a snappy title for a post about loss of fertility and the menopause. Then I heard Gary Moore’s ‘Empty Rooms’ on the radio…

For most women, the menopause happens around the age of 51 but I wasn’t even 40 when my gynae consultant informed me that my eggs had flogged themselves into early retirement. The technical term he used was ‘ovarian failure’.

I was only 39. It didn’t seem fair?

I phoned my mum.

‘I’m f**king menopausal, Mother!’ I howled.

She heard me out, then said, ‘Oh my darling girl, I’m sorry to hear this but I was the same age when I started mine, you know.’

I’ve blamed her ever since.

The reality hit me a few weeks later..

I could no longer make a baby.

I broke down and sobbed. LOUDLY.

No, I mean REALLY LOUDLY. My pet rats, Thelma and Louise, were that perturbed they did a load of poo then hid in their toilet roll inner-tubes.

Biologically, I have done what I was put on this earth to do. I’ve reproduced. Not once, but three times. Given that some women are unable to have a biological child, I am fully aware of how lucky I am.

Some women are only too happy to reach the end of their baby-making days. For them, there is a great sense of relief that they are able to give their bodies a well earned rest. For others, it’s a loss and as with any other meaningful loss there is grief.

I understand that women who have never been able to have their own children might read this post and feel pissed that somebody has the audacity to moan about not being able to have any more children when they already have three. My heart goes out to those women but I can only tell my own story..

I didn’t expect to feel this way.

Most likely, I wouldn’t have chosen to have another child. I was a month off being 39 when I had The Boy and my body didn’t know what had hit it. However, the choice was taken away from me and I think that’s where part of the problem lay. I no longer felt in control of my body. In fact, I’ve not felt in control of my body since but they say that it can take up to ten years for things to settle down after the menopause.

TEN MOTHERFUNGLING YEARS!

Some women choose to have a career first and children later, which is fine. Many women are having their first child in their 40s nowadays. However, if I’d have left it until I was 40, it would have been too late for me to have child with my second husband. As it turns out, my early menopause seems to be genetic and I would advise women who want to have children later rather than earlier, to take note of their mother’s menopause because history has a way of repeating itself..

Sometimes I dream of being pregnant. I see my tummy growing bigger and there is the feeling of euphoria (similar to when I see deceased relatives in my dreams) but as the dream unfolds my tummy grows smaller. Or I have a scan only to be told that there is nothing there. It’s like I’m having a phantom pregnancy in my sleep but it’s just my subconscious reminding me that I can’t have anymore babies – the bastard.

You know what?

It’s OK to feel sad that your baby-making days are over. It’s OK to grieve. It’s OK to secretly hate the sight of pert-breasted young women pushing prams because they exude youthfulness and you feel like shit.

Here’s the thing. The menopause will come for them too. Their bottoms will sag. Their nipples will head south and their ovaries will throw in the towel.

It comes TO US ALL.

That said, try and remember how wonderful it felt to be a new mother. It would be wrong to deny them the same happiness that you experienced, eh?

Try to see this time of life as a positive thing. Yes, it effing sucks. BUT. There are positives.

We no longer have to worry about unplanned pregnancies. Although, it is possible to get pregnant when you are going through the change, so don’t be throwing your contraception in the air just yet. Normally, a woman is told to take precautions for twelve months after her last period – two years if your menopause is early. So if you’ve spent the last 20 years rearing your brood and dreaming of retiring to Spain once the last one has bogged off then I would make sure you keep taking the pills, no?

Regards the mood swings ‘n’ stuff..

After the menopause has passed you will no longer have the urge to stab your husbands/partners face because your hormones will eventually settle down. Hence, the chances of you being done for manslaughter decrease. Who wants to spend their autumn years Pleasuring Her Majesty? Or is it, Her Majesty’s Pleasure?

Confusion. Another perk of the menopause.

I know how it feels to wake up at 2am DRENCHED in sweat due to a hot flush. You toss and turn for a few hours then give up and lie there listening to your other half snoring his head off. For a few seconds, you ponder ending his life. Why? Because you are suffering and he’s not. It pisses you RIGHT off that he is still able to make a baby while your ‘bits’ are decomposing. You worry that he might leave you for someone younger and fertile. But take heart, dear, because shit happens to men too. Their penises shrink and they can develop, er, performance problems. What can I say? Age can be a cruel mistress to both sexes.

There comes a time when the grief passes and you accept what is. Think of your womb as the cocoon which held your little butterflies in the making?

Second thoughts. Scrap that. It sounds wanky.

The key to surviving the menopause is to find the positives in it. Stick a Victoria Wood DVD on and have a damn good laugh about it. Really wibble yer bits. Yes, your reproductive system is now defunct but it’s earned it’s retirement, wouldn’t you say? Hopefully you are in a comfortable place financially and can spend more time doing the things you want to do. I’m not there yet because I had my youngest child at 39, not that I would change a thing. If anything, it gives me the incentive to keep myself as healthy as is possible because my job isn’t done yet. But for those of you whose kids have left home – this time is yours – so enjoy it.

Viva La Menopause!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic Disorder: When The Fire Isn’t Out

 

Panic disorder is like a fire.

At worst – a raging inferno.

Your body becomes sensitised and responds to everything as if it’s a threat and each fearful response releases more stress hormones into your body. It’s like throwing petrol onto a fire that’s already out of control..

So, you work your backside off to get better and in time those do flames die down. The panic attacks reduce and are less severe or they stop altogether. You’re no longer in fight or flight mode 24/7. You sleep better. You feel better. You think you’ve recovered.

So, you stop doing the things that helped you to feel better..

This is where you make a big mistake because those embers are still burning away..

The fire isn’t completely out.

The way it works is this: Your body has been sensitised for a long time and even though you feel better, you still have a higher than normal level of stress hormones knocking around in your body. These are the burning embers, if you like. Meaning that it doesn’t take much for the fire to be rekindled. Then a few months down the line you wake up at 4am with your heart thumping in your chest. You feel sick and dizzy and the full weight of despair punches you in the face.

There’s Fear, suitcase in hand, with a big smile on it’s fugly face.

HEY HEY HEY!! I’M BAAAAACK! DID YOU MISS ME?

Fear doesn’t wait for an answer. It’s already pushed it’s way past you and before you know it the little shit’s sitting with it’s size 10 feet up on your imaginary sofa.

WTF?! How did this happen?!

Here’s how..

You went back to your old habits and for a while your body tolerated it because you were less sensitised, but when you have been nervously exhausted it really doesn’t take a lot for things to get out of control again. The good news is that there are signs that let us know us that our stress levels are increasing.

  1. Increase (or return) of addictive behaviours
  2. Increase in obsessive compulsive behaviours.
  3. Rumination
  4. Tensed muscles
  5. Inability to complete tasks.
  6. Seeking reassurance.
  7. Completely losing your shit over trivial stuff.
  8. Living in the past or the future, never in the present.
  9. Avoidance behaviour.
  10. Insomnia.

These are all signs that anxiety is flaring up. Those embers are now flames but it doesn’t have to escalate into a full-on inferno. Recognising these warning signs gives us the chance to address our stress levels BEFORE things get out of hand.

The Fab Five.

Five important steps that will put you back on the road to recovery.

  1. Diet
  2. Relaxation exercises
  3. Thoughts
  4. Sleep Hygiene
  5. Acceptance

Diet

Have you lapsed back into poor eating habits by eating crap? By crap, I mean sugar-laden or fatty foods? or caffeine? The foods that made you feel shite when you were poorly?

A reminder.

Eating such foods releases CORTISOL into the body. Cortisol is a STRESS HORMONE.

If you want to get your cortisol levels down – you have to watch what you eat and drink. Boring, I know, but it depends on how much you want to kick this anxiety shit out of your life?

Relaxation

When was the last time you did some relaxation or meditation? Chances are you’ve gone from doing it religiously every day to when you can be arsed or never at all. It’s good practice to do some kind of relaxation EVERY DAY, even when when you feel better because it helps to keep the stress hormones down. Mindfulness lowers cortisol levels. FACT.

Thoughts

Be aware of your thoughts. Are your thoughts in the past or in the future? They should be mostly in the present. Thoughts about the past can produce pain if your dwelling on painful events whereas thoughts about the future can produce fear because the future is unknown. Fleeting thoughts about either are fine, necessary even in order to make plans. The problem is when you are living in the past or the future (or both) instead of the present.

Sleep Hygiene

How are you sleeping? If it’s poorly. What are you doing differently? Are you on social media before bedtime? Or watching stimulating TV? If so, remove all the electronics and read a book. A really boring book and aim to be asleep by 10pm.

Are you ingesting caffeine (inc chocolate) after 3pm? If so, stop. Caffeine is a stimulant. All you are doing is ramping up the stress hormones.

Are you lying there thinking about problems? If so, try mentally put those worries into imaginary balloons (or whatever you like) and watch them float away. You can address them the next day when you can actually do something about them. You can’t do much in your rollers and nightie, can you?!

Acceptance

Acceptance is the most important of them all.

You must accept every bewildering symptom.

You must accept every bewildering thought.

You must accept that you will have crap days.

You must accept that you will have some monumentally crap days.

You must accept that the road to recovery isn’t short.

You must accept that you need to keep doing the things that made you feel better EVEN WHEN YOU FEEL BETTER.

It’s called MAINTENANCE.

As long as you fight against your anxiety, you will never beat it and I do mean, NEVER. Those embers will keep on glowing with the potential to flame up at the slightest bit of stress.

Fear is the firestarter – the twisted firestarter. Deprive fire of oxygen and it will be extinguished. Deprive Fear of stress hormones and it becomes powerless. Make no mistake, Fear will try to knock on your door again and again but each time you will become more adept at seeing him coming..

The day you no longer react WITH FEAR to Fear, is the day you’ve well and truly beaten that nasty little shit and with time (and effort) you will put that fire out completely.

 

 

Sex and the Menopause

When I was a kid, the mere thought of my parents having sex was enough to have me projectile vomiting all over the nylon carpet. I mean, they were in their THIRTIES!! URGH!!

As we know, anything past 30 to a child is practically Jurassic.

I imagine we’ve all got stories like this but as a teenager I walked in on my parents one Sunday afternoon. IN THE LIVING ROOM!

OH. MY. GOD.

It was one of those moments in life where you pray that you’re experiencing a psychotic episode and the horror you see before you is an hallucination. Only it wasn’t an hallucination. My parents had taken advantage of a teen-free house but hadn’t bargained on their daughter popping home for her Duran Duran LP. Needless to say, I’m still in therapy.

*assumes fetal position and quietly sobs*

Why am I even mentioning this?

Well, my mother was well into her menopause by then so, HORRIFYING as that memory is, it’s also kind of cool that there was still some life in the old girl despite the decline of her reproductive bits. Mother did later confirm (under the influence of numerous whiskies) that she’d enjoyed an active sex life up until her late 50s. My fingers were jammed in my ears at the time but I think that’s what she said..

My grandparents having sex?

QUELLE HORREUR!

In my grandmother’s day – women hit the menopause and sex was off the menu except for the odd fumble after one too many port and lemon’s. To be fair, families were generally much bigger back then. A woman’s job was to be a mother and a home-maker and many were still firing out babies into their late 40s and early 50s. Understandably the menopause provided a welcome break to women and their weary vaginas..

Things are different now.

Women are different now.

Many menopausal women have the same sexual appetite as they ever did. More so, in some cases – especially if they are HRT’d up to the eyeballs. However, some women experience do sexual problems during and after the menopause..

Libido

Sex drive gradually declines with age in women and men. However, women are more likely to be affected earlier because of the menopause. Think of your libido as an air bag that’s been deployed, a deflated balloon snagged in the branches of a tree or a bouncy castle after the generator’s turned off..

Depressing, no?

It’s not all gloom and doom though. There are things you can do to inflate the ol’ libido.

Exercise – If you are overweight and feel crap, it will affect how you feel sexually. So eat healthily, lose a few pounds and do some exercise.

Stress – Stress affects libido BIG TIME so take address your stress levels. Do some relaxation exercises or go stare at a tree for half an hour a day.

Stimulate Thyself (brain) – Read Fifty Shades of Filth or other such classic literature.

Another problem with libido is that having hot flushes at night. They interfere with sleep and turn amiable women into fire-breathing dragons. Morning sex? Well yeah, IF YOU HAVE A DEATH WISH! The LAST thing a woman wants after night’s hormonal sweat-a-thon is a frisky partner with cod breath!

The Big O

Another problem is that many women notice that their orgasms are more, Oh, Than OH OH OH!!!!

How to explain this?

Orgasms can become more of a damp squib than the knee-tremblers you may be used to but before you go and hurl yourself into the nearest canal – listen up.

You can STILL achieve a decent (ish) orgasm.

The key to it is stimulation.

You can lie there and think about Sean Bean in his Y Fronts till the cows come home, dears. You need to go that extra mile (or two) and so will your OH. Get him/her to play you like a banjo if needs be. Failing that, get yourself a vibrator and give yourself a blast on that thing for five minutes. Think of it as giving yourself a ‘jump start’. A bit like starting up an old banger on cold a winter’s morning. Get your jump leads out and stick em on your battery!

Tip. Don’t bother with anything handbag sized if you’ve heaved out a few nine pounders. It’ll be like throwing a chipolata up a corridor. You get me?

Painful Sex

Another problem women have to endure is pain during sex.

Here’s the rub (intentional pun)

Lack of oestrogen thins the vaginal walls. Yes, really. Technical word is vaginal atrophy. It’s nature’s way of telling us that our reproductive work here is done and we can crawl off into a corner and DIE. You might start to find that the ol’ vageroonie gets a bit dry? VERY COMMON. The reason for this most shittest of conditions is a decline in oestrogen.

One word.

Lube.

You can get oestrogen creams via your GP if you prefer but be aware that there could be unwanted side effects and not just for you. If used incorrectly your bloke could develop bigger boobs than you. NOT JOKING.

Bottom line. If you want to keep your ‘glovebox’ in good working order – keep it lubed and exercised.

A Word on Pubes

Another perk of the menopause is that your pubes turn grey. MASSIVE bummer. However, we have options.

Shaving

Shave them off. Or if you’re into pain, pay to have some sadist wax them off.

Dyeing

Dye them to match your natural shade or go for something a bit more funky. Shocking pink perhaps?

Eu Naturel

Embrace them as they are. Greying. Sparse. Depressing.

Get Creative

Next time you go to the hairdressers, nick some hair off the floor that’s closest to your natural shade and make yourself a little pube-toupee.

Pube-Toupee anyone?

It may be the case that you’ve had enough of sex for one lifetime and you’re quite looking forward to settling down at night with a Horlicks and Saga magazine. This is perfectly acceptable, as long as your partner is happy with the situation? Bit of an issue if they’re not. You need to talk to them because your menopause affects them too. It’s important that they understand that your body has changed – therefore your sex-life will change. This isn’t the 1950’s where we talk about ‘the change’ in hushed tones. It’s something that happens to every woman. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are many other ways to be intimate that don’t involve swapping body fluids but that’s one for another post because I’ve already exceeded my word count..

The menopause may signal the death knell for your reproductive life but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time for the flannelette nighties just yet. You just have to put in a little more effort, that’s all.

Viva La Menopause!