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.

 

 

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Researching autism in mainstream secondary schools, I came across this comment on an online debate of whether autistic children should be taught in mainstream schools..

 “As a student taught in a mainstream school, I know the pain of autistic kids. There is an average of one autistic per classroom, and it commonly disrupts the learning environment, In recent years, I have seen many classrooms disrupted by a call for “iPad!!!” or “Hungry!!!” in the middle of an important lesson, sometimes even a test. I understand the argument for mainstreaming, but by the time that making the… Lesser… Kids feel better by putting them in normal classes infringes upon the learning environment of those who actually have opportunity (keeping autistics in the same school as normals) , that’s going too far.”

Charming, eh?

Where do I start?

“I know the pain of autistic kids”

No you don’t.

“There is an average of one autistic per classroom, and it commonly disrupts the learning environment”

“It”? I hope this person is referring to ‘it’ as the autism, not the child?

“I understand the argument for mainstreaming, but by the time that making the… Lesser… Kids”

This person considers him/herself as being more important (and intelligent) than autistic pupils.

“keeping autistics in the same school as normals) , that’s going too far.”

Are we talking feral cats here? Or human beings?

I am a literal person and I take words literally but there is no doubt in my mind that this person sees autistic pupils as inferior to himself and that they should all be buggered off elsewhere.

I’m not oblivious to how autistic pupils can be disruptive but that doesn’t mean they have no place in mainstream. When I was at school it was the opposite. It was the “normals” that disrupted my learning on a daily basis for the entire four years I was there. Personally, I’d have ripped someone’s arm off to go to a special school but many autistic people do better in mainstream as long as they have the right support – not to mention the acceptance and understanding of their peers.

There is much I could say about inclusion but that’s for another post. Today, I want to address attitudes towards autistic people.

So, lets take a look at some other “lessers”.

  • Dan Aykroyd –  Actor – Aspergers DX
  • Hans Christian Andersen – Author – Considered Autistic
  • Susan Boyle – Singer – Aspergers DX.
  • Tim Burton – Film Director – Considered Autistic
  • Henry Cavendish – Scientist – Considered Autistic
  • Charles Darwin – Naturalist, Geologist, and Biologist – Considered Autistic
  • Paul Dirac – Physicist – Considered Autistic
  • Albert Einstein –Er, Hello? Genius!– Considered Autistic
  • Bobby Fischer – Chess Whizz – Considered Autistic
  • Bill Gates – Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation – Considered Autistic
  • Temple Grandin – Animal Scientist – Asperger DX
  • Daryl Hannah – Actress – Asperger DX
  • Steve Jobs – Former CEO of Apple – Considered Autistic
  • James Joyce – Author – Considered Autistic
  • Barbara McClintock – Scientist and Cytogeneticist – Considered Autistic
  • Michelangelo – Sculptor, Painter, Architect, Poet – Considered Autistic
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Musical Genius – Considered Autistic
  • Sir Isaac Newton – Mathematician, Astronomer, & Physicist – Considered Autistic
  • Jerry Seinfeld – Comedian – Self-DX
  • Satoshi Tajiri – Creator of Nintendo’s Pokémon – Aspergers DX
  • Nikola Tesla – Inventor – Physicist -Electrical & Mechanical Engineer- Considered Autistic
  • Gary Numan – Singer – Song Writer – Producer – Composer – Self-DX Aspergers
  • Paddy Considine – Actor – Director – Screen Writer – Musician – Aspergers DX
  • Alan Gardner – Award Winning Garden Designer and TV presenter – Aspergers DX
  • Chris Packham – Nature Photographer, TV Presenter – Author – Aspergers DX

Those who consider that autism equals low intelligence would do well to take a long hard look at this list because all the people on it have a diagnosis or are generally considered to be autistic by those who are autistic and the professionals who diagnose it. This list of talents is as diverse as the autistic spectrum itself. I wonder if our friend who wants the “lesser kids” out of his/her classroom will change the world in the way that some of these people have?

I’m guessing not.

Another problem is that the word ‘Autism’ is often used as a slur – an insult.

Ignorance causes distress. On any given day you can type the word ‘Autistic’ into the search bar of Twitter and you will come across a tweet that uses the word as an insult.

Actual Tweets.

“This lady is watching some lads just go and buy a drink, yelling autistic dribble, making funny noises and clapping her hands.”

“they usually have something worthwhile to say though…..your tweets are nothing but autistic outbursts”

“Got an image in my head of (name omitted) having an autistic shitfit trying to work the wetherspoons app hahahahahahha”

“Like how autistic do you have to be to think going to spawns on an aim map and spawn killing in DM is going to help you or beneficial.”

“autistic retard”

“my friend keeps sending me snaps of some autistic guy dancing at the bar .. lemme tell u for free , i never seen a retard dance like that.”

Plenty more where they came from but you get my drift?

If I had my way, I would have them rounded up and fired off into space on a one way ticket because there is a chance these fuckwits will spawn and spread their ignorance throughout the planet. Harsh, but effective, yes?

I haven’t made screen shots of the tweets but they are there. I haven’t made these up.

Some of these tweets will have been made on iPhones and what these idiots don’t realise is that the Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple, is Steve Jobs – a man who is generally considered to have been AUTISTIC.

Or maybe they’ve done the Pokémon thing?

The world-wide phenomenon which is Pokémon was created by a man with a Aspergers diagnosis. Get this. In 2014 Satoshi Tajiri was estimated to be worth $5.1 billion!

PIKA PIKA MOFOS!

“Lesser”? I don’t think so!

Some autistic people do have severe learning difficulties but they often excel in creative thinking.

“Lesser”? No. Different? Yes.

We all have something to offer.

The slurs are offensive – no question. However, the joke is on the ignorant wankpuffins who make such comments because the world that we know today has been shaped by autistic people.

Issac Newton wrote: “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

We see further today because we are standing on the shoulders of giants and many of those giants were autistic.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

 

 

 

Big Mouth Strikes Again..

It isn’t often I climb aboard my soapbox but occasionally somebody pushes ALL my buttons and this week that person is Camilla Long.

Camilla writes for the Sunday Times. She’s also an expert on autism, or so she thinks..

On September 23rd, she tweeted this:

Firstly, Camilla is implying that you can tell if a person is autistic or not by how they look.

Secondly, she seems to be confusing autism with a disease.

Thirdly, she thinks she has the necessary qualifications to diagnose autism.

I am autistic and I do NOT ‘suffer’ with autism. However, I DO suffer with the uneducated opinions of Camilla and her ilk.

At the time of writing this post there are 470 comments in response to that tweet – mostly from an irate autistic community who have rightly taken offence to the statement, “An insult to real sufferers”.

@plannergeddon tweeted: I think it’s called spectrum for a reason.

‘Dr’ Long replied: “I think it’s bollocks”

No. What’s bollocks, Camilla, is people like you coming out with uneducated SHIT like that. You have 62’000 followers – some of whom will be stupid enough to take the drivel you write as fact.

When it comes to ‘suffering with autism’, I don’t ever recall saying to my OH,’ My autism isn’t half giving me gyp today. I’m really fucking suffering’.

I suffer with how people treat me because I’m different.

I suffer with anxiety caused by the stress of living in a neurotypical world.

I suffer because people can be utter arseholes at times.

I do not suffer with autism.

Autistic people are working hard to spread awareness of what’s it’s like to be autistic and ONLY autistic people can do that. If want to have a better understanding about autism, listen to autistic people. Don’t listen to idiots like Camilla who think that you can’t possibly be autistic unless you are Raymond Babbitt aka Rain Man.

To be clear, Camilla Long does NOT speak for me.

‘Dr’ Long is dismissive of Gary Numan being autistic. Why? Because he doesn’t have an official diagnosis.

Oh, well that’s that then! The voice of authority (not) has spoken.

Speaking to Autism Connect, Gary said: “I had some problems during my school years and, after many trips to a Child Psychologist, it was suggested that I had Asperger’s. I’ve never known for sure but I’ve always accepted that to be the case.”

“Some people seem concerned about it but I have always seen it as a positive thing. Yes, I’m somewhat awkward socially, but that seems a small price to pay for the advantages that come with Asperger’s.”

“I’m obsessive, but that’s a vital and useful trait for people in the music business. I’m driven and highly focused on things that I’m interested in, like my musical career.”

“A child psychiatrist at St Thomas’ Hospital in London suggested it might be Asperger’s. At 15, I was put on Valium and Nardil for about a year but as my mum hadn’t heard of the condition she thought the diagnosis was an insult to her parenting so we stopped seeing the psychiatrist and it was brushed under the carpet.”

An interview in The Guardian:

“I’m fine doing interviews and meeting fans because all I do then is talk about me but at functions where I have to talk to people about normal things, I’m rubbish.”

“The only downside is that I’m pretty awkward when interacting with strangers. I find being around a lot of people uncomfortable and I’m easily intimidated by the unpredictable nature of people.

“I often talk too much and I have a problem with eye contact. When I talk to people face-to-face I count how long I’ve been looking at their eyes so I know when to look away. It’s mechanical, not natural. There are a number of little things like that which I employ.”

If Gazza doesn’t have Aspergers, I’ll eat my diagnosis papers. WITH CHIPS!

Incidentally, Are Friends Electric was the first record I ever bought and it’s apt because most of my friends are online. I loved our Gary Numan and his face paint. I got that he was different (like me) and that it wasn’t all for show.

Gary is content to self-diagnose and self-diagnosis is valid. Often, just knowing that you are autistic is enough. I self-diagnosed for four years before I was referred for assessment. A DX is a professional validating what you already know. A diagnosis is important for children to be able to access support but when older people are diagnosed, they usually have a lifetime of coping skills behind them so there is little to be gained from official diagnosis. I know people who are self-diagnosed and they are happy to remain so. As far as I am concerned their experience is no less valid because they don’t have a piece of paper that says ASD or Aspergers Syndrome on it.

Gary knows he is autistic and that’s all that matters, NOT the opinion of some trumped-up columnist.

Camilla could have used her 62K following to educate people about autism but instead she chose to spread ignorance. The woman doesn’t even have a basic understanding of autism so who the chuff is she to decide who is or isn’t autistic?

I’ll close this post with one of my Twitter favorite responses to her tweet…

We are autistic. Not fucking “sufferers” Get back in your own lane and STFU until you’ve learnt something about autism – @andreadonstar

Hear hear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Show Must Go On

I’m struggling today. I need to write how I feel because it helps me and maybe in helping myself I can help you too?

The anxiety isn’t as severe as it has been. It’s a manageable 6/10 but my numerous annoying ailments have decided to come out and play at the same time. My neck is sore. My tinnitus is driving me INSANE and I have the beginnings of yet another migraine.

I try to look at the positives. As in, I’m still alive. I wasn’t one of the 151,600 people in the world that died yesterday. I’m still here. Yet it’s like trying to drive on a flat tyre. Only in my case, a new tyre isn’t an option. The tyre represents my brain and I can’t just go out and buy a new brain. Unless Ebay have started selling brains?

A lot of the things I am experiencing today are not actually anxiety symptoms. I’m 47, therefore it’s natural for there to be wear and tear, especially as most of my jobs were heavy manual work. I’m only five foot one with a small frame so I’ve put a lot of strain on my body over the years. What can I say? You do what you have to do to put food on the table.

Due to my autism, these little annoyances become amplified and it has to be said that anxiety, while it doesn’t cause them, DOES make them feel worse. Stress hormones affect the bones and joints and I’ve always noticed that when I go through a phase of increased anxiety – my aliments are worse. Obviously, the answer is to address my anxiety and all these other things should start to improve. This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel pissed off though. I’ve forgotten what it is to feel ‘well’ because it’s been that long since I felt that way. Another thing that pisses me off is that I never appreciated good health when I had it. I used to hear older people say, ‘You don’t appreciate good health until it’s gone’. Too farking true, me dears.

I get it. I’m middle-aged, post-menopausal and slightly mad. How can I expect to feel like I did in my twenties or thirties? I’m lacking the necessary hormones for a start. My body is crumbling like Cheshire cheese. I’m getting older and let me tell you that it comes around TOO DAMN FAST. It seems like yesterday that I was snogging Nick Rhodes on my bedroom wall. Now I can see 50 waving at me (hopefully) and with that comes the realisation that I am well over half way through my life, if the three score years and ten is to be believed? Sobering thought, eh? Enough to make one want to pissed, only I can’t drink because I have ANXIETY.

Another way of looking at it and probably THE best way is not to mourn my youth but to thank my stars that I have a decent amount of life to look back on. Health wise, that is.

I lost my friend to cancer last year. She was one year older than me with so much more to give, especially to her eight year old son. When I think of what she went through it makes me guilty about whinging on about stuff. She’d have given anything for my problems to be hers instead of the cancer which was invading her body at an alarming rate. However, if you are reading this and thinking that her death should have been enough to make me ‘get a grip’, then my friend, you have NEVER experienced anxiety disorder because it is an illness. I’m not talking about the normal anxiety that every human being experiences, like the nervousness before a job interview or those few seconds after you hear a loud bang. I’m talking about the kind of anxiety that’s debilitating and destructive. It’s a very real illness. Just not one that can be seen. It’s effects, however, are visible to all. If you look close enough, you will see the fear in their eyes. You will see the tremor in their hands. You will notice their inability to be still. If you are sensitive enough, you may even smell their fear. These are the outer signs of a body that’s fucked up due to stress.

Thankfully, I know that recovery from mental illness is achievable for most of us and if it can’t be cured, it can definitely be managed to give quality of life. That thought acts as a light when my skies are dark. Another light comes in the form of my children. A funny text or a phone call from my eldest boys. Or today when I woke up to a dark inner sky. A sleepy voice said, “Cuddle me mama?” and some of those dark clouds lifted. Not enough to make all of this sodding crap go away but enough for me to have the energy and will to keep fighting it.

If you are struggling with anxiety, know this. You will win some battles and you will lose some but you CAN win the war. It really isn’t about how many times you fall down but about how many times you get up again. I know you are tired. I know your soul is weary but KEEP GETTING UP. Even when your legs feel so heavy you don’t think they can support you. THEY WILL. They are STRONGER than you think. YOU are stronger than you think. Rest if you need to but then you must get back up.

Life is a show and we must get on with it as best we can because this isn’t the rehearsal. There never was one in this show called ‘Life’. So, do that pile of ironing, even if it you do it sitting down and it takes you ALL DAY. Walk the dog. Hoover up. ON WITH THE SHOW!

The show must go on
I’ll face it with a grin
I’m never giving in
On with the show.

The Show Must Go On ~ Queen ~ Brian May

 

Too Much Information

The internet is a great invention. There is literally nothing that you can’t find out via the world wide web in a matter of seconds and I quite like the fact that I can do my shopping online while wearing my rollers and tea-stained nightie. This means that I don’t have to put myself through the sensory nightmare of crowded supermarkets. I also like how I can keep in touch with people without having to physically write because I HATE writing. However, there is a downside to the internet and that is INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

The accurate term is ‘Cognitive Overload’.

Our brains are designed to take in lots of information but it seems that technology is moving way too fast for our brains to keep up. Cognitive overload can lead to stress and for sensitive people, like myself, it can make you PROPER CRANKY.

Wandering around a bookstore the other week, yes ACTUAL BOOKS, I was amazed (not) at how many relaxation/meditation books there are now with authors urging us to ‘unplug’ and simplify our lives. I came away with a book called, ‘Unplugged’. I was attracted to it because I was overwhelmed. After a four month hiatus from debilitating anxiety, I was hurtling towards burnout stage faster than a seagull after a Harry Ramsden chip on Blackpool pier..

One night I sat up in bed watching the hours crawl by (AGAIN) and I told myself that I would do whatever it took to get myself back to generally insanity, as opposed to ‘AM LOSING IT, DOC’ – insanity.

I realised that the internet is both friend and foe and that my use of technology was taking up the majority of my day, in one form or another. The first thing I did was to put an ‘out of office’ message on my Twitter. I normally just disappear for a few weeks but this time I felt obliged to inform the world of my absence. I suspect many may be praying that I don’t return ha ha.

The thing about Twitter is the volume of information in one hit. It’s a real emotional roller-coaster. On top of this emotional baggery is the news of the day – fires, terrorism, deaths, politics and Trump being a dick. It is an PHENOMENAL amount of information. The brain then has to trawl it’s way through the quagmire of info and somehow make sense of it. Is it any wonder that my dreams have been psychotic, if the last thing at night I am reading is this lot?

I’ve adjusted the brightness on my phone and enabled the night-setting. On my Kindle, I have changed my font to white on a black background which is easier on the eyes. I also make sure that I don’t have my phone by my bedside at night. If it’s there, it’s too easy to open it up and check in with the world because I will be gutted if I miss that Instagram pic of somebody’s ingrowing toenail, eh?

There is also evidence to suggest that Wifi signals emitted from phones and gadgets next to your bed can interfere with your quality of sleep, so if you are sleeping poorly and you charge your gadgets next to your bed, or worse, sleep with them under your pillow – it might be an idea to remove them from your room and see if your sleep improves? Why people sleep with their phones under their pillows is beyond me. Vibrating phones in pockets, I get. But pillows? No.

Its not the technology itself that is making me ill, well, maybe it is when it comes to migraines. It’s more to do with the amount of exposure I am getting and that choice is mine. Nobody forces me to check Twitter or look at pictures of somebody’s pie and chips on Instagram. It’s me.

I knew the amount of information I exposed myself to was hurting me. I was incredibly stressed out and needed to do something before I got back into breakdown territory. I couldn’t go back there again. NO FLIPPING WAY, HOSE!

So, I experimented..

The Experiment: To See If Using Electronics Less Improves Stress and Sleep

Monday

Kindle – 2 and 1/2 hours

Internet – 1/2 hour (e mails)

Instagram – 1 hour

Total = 4 hours

Sleep – 1am until 6am.

Reason I was so late was because ah wes watchin Catherine Cookson on telly an ‘ah forgot abyeut the time. It turk us an hoor tuh git tur sleep, pet. :/

Quality of was sleep improved.

Dreams not exactly sweet but nowhere near as funky.

Tuesday

Internet (e mails & blog) 1 hour 5 mins

Kindle (three hours)

Instagram 30 mins

Total = 4 hours 35 mins

Sleep -10pm until 7am

Woke up a few times in-between but not enough for it to be a problem. Dreams improved.

Wednesday

Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins

Kindle – 4 hours

Instagram 30 mins

Sleep – 12am- 7.30am

I struggled to get off to sleep, probably because I’d watched another strife ridden Cathy Cookson before bed. I tossed about for a couple of hours but once asleep I pretty much stayed asleep. I had one of my reoccurring dreams where I buy the house where I was born, only it’s a lot bigger than it actually was/is. Also, it’s part house/part social club where you access the magical world of darts, pool and beer via the loft? No. I have no idea where it’s come from either. A pleasant addition to this particular version of the dream was that my parents were in it. My DEAD parents. Only, Dad was telling me I would have to get rid of some of my books.

WHAT?!

That one is easy enough to decipher because we need a new book case as I have too many books! Actually, what am I saying? You can NEVER have too many books!

Thursday

Internet (e mails & blog) 30 mins

Kindle 4 hours

Instagram 15 mins

Sleep – 11pm until 7am.

I had a few dodgy dreams but the one thing I did differently was to read my Kindle until 9.30 pm. *slaps wrist*

Friday

Internet (e mails, blog)  1 hour

Kindle 4 hours

Instagram 10 mins

Sleep = 10pm – 6.45 am

Dreams were NON ANXIETY and representative of what I had done that day.

Saturday

Went on electronics for hours on end to see if it was, like, a placebo effect.

It wasn’t.

I was wired all day and struggled to sleep at night. Stephen King was writing my dreams again and I awake from 5am on Sunday morning feeling like I’d been steam-rollered.

Conclusion

The evidence strongly suggests that my use of technology IS affecting my anxiety, sleep and general well-being and by making a few teensy adjustments I have improved things significantly and I have to admit that I feel better for it.

When it comes to dreams, my brain was starting to decipher actual things in my life instead of random rubbish via the internet and because I was getting more restful sleep, my body was feeling more refreshed on waking. I may not been Julie Andrews first thing but I wasn’t the total Mumzilla, either. I had more energy and my short-term memory was less shit. It was by no means a cure but it was a good enough improvement for me to consider spending less time on electronics for the foreseeable.

If you spend a lot of time on computers and stuff and are struggling with anxiety or sleep, maybe it’s time you unplugged?

Disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself.

 

 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul – Autism Friendly Showing

The Boy LOVES the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He’s a big fan of the books and loves the films..

Before his 8th birthday, he’d never been to the cinema. This is because he’s autistic with sensory processing disorder and the cinema is a very sensory experience with sound, lighting and crowds. We’ve known about autism friendly showings for a while but no film interested him until Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Long Haul came out, so we decided that this would be as good time as any to see how he coped with the experience. On this occasion, it was at the Odeon cinema.

For those unfamiliar with Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the main protagonist is American middle school student, Greg Heffley, who starts sixth grade and writes down all his thoughts in a diary – though he prefers to call it a journal. Greg is always getting himself (and his family) into the deepest of poo. Put it this way, if I was his ‘Mom’, I would need gin via an intravenous drip.

The Film

Greg Heffly is involved in a particularly embarrassing incident in a family restaurant and plans to turn shame into fame by going to meet his idol, Mac Digby, at a gaming convention. However, Mrs Heffley forces the family on a road trip to attend great-grandma Meemaw’s 90th birthday party. As usual, things go wrong spectacularly wrong in true Heffley style.

The Cinema Experience

First thing’s first…SWEETS!

 

Brew Before We View..OOH rhymes..

 

Then it’s in we go..

Adjustments for autism friendly showings include:

  • a relaxed environment where people understand the needs of children and families with autism
  • lights left on low
  • sound turned down
  • no trailers or advertisements (unless they are embedded in the film)
  • staff trained in autism awareness
  • disabled access
  • chill out zone, where available
  • freedom to move around and sit where you like
  • bring your own food and drink
  • free entry for carers with valid CEA Card.

I liked how relaxed it was. I’ve seen numerous films in my time and it’s always taken me a few days to come down from my ‘high’ due to over-stimulation. With the autism friendly screening, however, I was absolutely fine. The Boy LOVED it. He wasn’t anxious at all. He was excited but not overwhelmed. GET IN!

One thing that short-circuited my brain was the fact that ALL the actors have changed from the first three films. I didn’t do my usual research so I wasn’t prepared. Nor did I look too closely at the advertising posters (OOPS) and I found it hard to get my head around at first because I’m autistic and don’t like things to change. However, Zachary Gordon (who played the original Greg Heffley) is now 19 and the original Roderick (Devon Bostick) is 25.

I’ve seen some less than favourable Twitter comments about the change of actors, especially the new Roderick with whingers (mostly girls) hash-tagging #NotmyRoderick.

HERE’S THE THING, GALS

Greg and Roderick Heffley do NOT age in the books so a recast is inevitable. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE POPCORN!

Personally, I think Charlie Wright does a decent job as Roderick, so, NER.

There are some laugh out loud moments but, for me, The Long Haul isn’t quite on par with the other films of the series. That said, The Boy thought it was ‘hilare’ all the way through.

I’m obviously old and miserable, but then, I probably have more in common with Great Grandma-Meemaw than anybody else. *sighs*

My rating for the autism showing experience at The Odeon is 9/10. This is definitely something we will do more of as a family. The only whinge I have is the ASTRONOMICAL price of sweets. Then again, you are allowed to take your own food and drink in so I guess I’ll just have to shut my face on that one, eh?

As for the film itself, I’ll give it 6/10 for some REALLY funny moments.

The Boy rates this film 58 million.

I’ll leave the last words with him..

“The cinema is great. That’s it for the cinema.

The film was very, very, very funny and exciting and awesome and also happy at the end.”

Eat your heart out, Kermode.

This experience (and film) gets The Boy’s stamp of approval.

This is not a sponsored review.