Monthly Archives: January 2014

Is Autism a Disability?

One thing that kept coming up when I wrote my blog about the idea of a cure for autism, was the fact that the word cure made it sound like autism was some kind of disease.  Also, I have noticed a lot of anger recently on Twitter about people on the T.V. using the term `autism sufferer`, which again implies some sort of illness.  Even the term disorder, as in autism spectrum disorder, has its fair share of critics, but what about the terms disability or disabled?  Are these the correct terms?  And ultimately does it even matter what term you use?

Organisations like the National Autistic Society refer to autism as a disability whereas the DSM refers to it as a disorder.  But the NHS says that on its own autism is not a disability, but that sometimes, depending on where you are on the spectrum, it may come along with other things that would mean the person was disabled.

 Lots of people make a big deal about not wanting to be referred to as disabled.  They may claim that because they are able to get on with their lives and do other things they can’t possibly have a disability, whereas I would say that autism is a disability.  In some cases it disables you from doing certain things, therefore it is a disability.  In my view, refusing to accept the words disability or disabled simply give the words more of a stigma.  It is basically like saying `if you can still do things and make something of your life you can’t possibly be disabled`.  Somebody like Stephen Hawking is quite obviously disabled; he can’t walk or even move, and is unable to speak now without the aid of a computer.  The fact that he has achieved things that very few other people in the world could achieve, doesn’t mean that he is not disabled – just as being disabled doesn’t mean you can’t achieve those things.  It is the same with people at the Paralympics; they were without question disabled – that’s the whole point of the event – if they are going to claim they are not disabled they may as well just pack up and go home.  Of course there is the whole other argument that people with disabilities should be able to compete in the Olympics, which I think would be fair enough, but that is a different debate. 

In my mind, when people refuse to accept that they are disabled, they give the word all kinds of negative connotations – just accept it and move on – it`s not like people are going to be calling you disabled every day for the rest of your life.  Ultimately words are meaningless, and the only reason they have any power at all is that we give them power with our reactions to them.  If you change the word disabled what do you replace it with?  Disorder is another word that sparks a lot of controversy for exactly the same reasons.  If you use the term differently-abled, you deserve a punch in the face – because it basically means the exact same thing, just in a more patronising tone.  Having said all this, if the word disabled really does distress you, you don’t have to use it yourself.  I can’t think of a time in my life when I have ever referred to myself as being disabled, or of a time when someone has ever directly referred to me as disabled  But I do consider autism to be a disability, and the knock on effect of that of course is that I would be considered disabled. 

I suppose what I really want to try to get through to people is that, yes, to a degree words are important – but they are only as important as you make them.  A hundred and fifty years ago the word nincompoop was considered to be one of the worst insults you could throw at somebody.  Language changes and evolves, and whatever new words come in and replace the old ones, eventually somebody will get offended by them and they will have to go.  It is similar to the debate over the word prostitute – apparently the term now is sex-worker; but that could mean anything; a porn star could be a sex worker.  Pimps or strippers work in the sex industry.  Words seem to go from harmless to offensive all the time nowadays – a lot of words that a hundred years or so ago would have been given as a medical diagnosis, such as idiot or imbecile, are now considered to be insults.  Now, I am not saying that those words should be acceptable, of course not, but it is simply the evolution of language. Some words were used in a clinical sense, then began to be used as slang – and then insults – until they were judged to be unacceptable for their original purpose, and new words needed to be found.  Much the same thing is happening in America with the word retard at the moment – it is a much more socially acceptable word over there than in the UK, and in some places will still be used in a medical sense, but because of its connotations as an insult, it is finally becoming much less acceptable to actually refer to somebody who is disabled as a retard.  I don’t think it`s a bad thing if Americans stop using that word in a clinical sense also.

 In reality it is just the way language evolves; around half of the most well-known swear words today were originally farming terms across England or Germany.  Language evolved, and at some point those words stopped being socially acceptable agricultural slang, and became insults – much the same way that insults from a hundred years ago or so, like brat, became socially acceptable slang.  Certain words are created as insults from the start; in history whenever one race has tried to exert superiority over another, language has always been one of the most powerful weapons – refer to a group of people with words that make them seem less than human and it is easier to do atrocious things to them.  So these words are always considered insults, and understandably so, but what about other words, such as disability?  Well as I say, it`s basically pointless to get offended by it.  I mean if somebody really wanted to insult you would they just say `you`re disabled`?  There are a whole plethora of other insults available, and it is a pretty substandard bully indeed who would fall back on `disabled` as an insult.  I just feel that there are far more important things to focus on than terminology when it comes to the word disabled where autism is concerned.  Autism, no matter how many positives it may bring to your life, will come with its fair share of difficulties – and it is really much better to focus on dealing with those difficulties, without bothering to think about the terminology behind it all. 


 If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)

A Cure for Autism?

A cure for autism is probably one of the most controversial topics right now.  The debate over whether there could ever be one, or should ever be one has been going virtually since autism was discovered and first documented.  Some people claim there may already be one, and some people argue that it is impossible to cure something such as autism.  A lot of people take issue with the use of the word `cure`, because it implies that autism is some kind of disease.  I should just say, before I go any further, that personally, even if a cure existed, I wouldn’t take it.  But despite, that I have absolutely no issue with people with autism who would like a cure, and I have no intention of having a go at anybody in this blog.  This is simply my personal opinion on this subject.

Should we create a cure?

As I say, my personal view is that I wouldn’t take a cure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t think it`s ok to try to find one for those people with autism that want one.  The issue I have is this; autism isn’t some kind of disease – it is the way our brain is wired.  There are a lot of things that can lessen the negative impacts of autism; things such as diet, or the techniques I have talked about in previous blogs, but these aren’t a cure as such.  Personally, having no real medical knowledge, I have to admit I have no clue how a cure could or would be created.  But if somebody thinks they can come up with it, then I wouldn’t try to discourage them.  I have no desire to actively pursue a cure, and I think there are much more important things that the money and time could be spent on; such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.  At the same time I know there are a lot of people out there with autism who wish that there was a cure for it, and who am I to stand in their way if they feel that their lives could be better by taking a cure. 

Should you cure your autism?

Now would probably be a good time to explain why I wouldn’t take a cure if there was one: as I say, autism isn’t some kind of disease, you are not one person, and then you get autism and have the negative side-effects, take a pill and go back to being who you were before.  Autism affects the way your brain works.  It influences how you think, how you feel, how your senses work, how you perceive the world around you and everybody in itWhat else is there apart from these things, that makes you who you are?  Every thought you have ever had, and every feeling you have ever felt has been influenced by your autism in some way.  Sure, a cure sounds lovely for things like outbursts and sensory overload, but there are things that can already help you to deal with these issues.  Curing autism would change your entire being.  You wouldn’t be who you are now.  You would never be able to think, or feel or experience in the same way again.  If you wanted to take that risk then that would be completely up to you – we are only talking in hypotheticals anyway as there is no cure.  But from my point of view, I quite like who I am now, and I don’t feel like becoming someone else any time soon.  

I suppose it keeps coming back to this point – just because I have autism I can’t talk on behalf of everybody else who has it.  I can advise and give my opinions, but that`s about it.  So no, I don’t think it is worth changing who you are just to fix some negative behaviours, or some things that you may find distressing.  I don’t want a cure for my autism, but I can`t speak for others.


A cure is always going to be a touchy subject – even the word itself is controversial.  It implies a disease, and I know I said I wasn’t going to have a go at anybody, but my belief is this: people with autism who are fed up of it, and don’t feel that any techniques are working to help them, are perfectly entitled to say that they would like a cure – because we might as well keep using that word, seeing as though it is one everyone understands – but I do think it is out of order for non-autistic people to call for a cure; it basically implies that they think there is something wrong with autistic people, and that a cure would make autistic people like them.  So while I am not one hundred percent opposed to people investigating a cure for the small percentage of autistic people who want one, I do take issue with non-autistic people viewing autism as something that should be removed.


 If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)

How I started writing about autism

It is just coming up to ten years since I was diagnosed with autism.  Obviously in the years before my diagnosis things were very difficult for myself and my family.  I`d be one of the first people to say that autism has its good side, but you would be a fool to deny that there are a lot of negatives that come with it.  Simply getting a diagnosis helped a lot with those.  Knowing what it was we were dealing with obviously made things easier, and my autistic brain coped better after it had more facts presented to it.  But things were still difficult. The techniques that were going around to deal with certain challenges were fine, but for us they just didn’t quite do it.  This isn’t to insult the techniques, but every technique, no matter how well thought out and fine-tuned it may be, isn’t going to be able to help everybody.  So my Mum began to create techniques of her own; a points-based reward system that helped to encourage me to do things I found difficult, rather than punish me if I had a meltdown or something.  She created a series of Scripts, Signs and Sketches that helped me to deal with challenging situations, and helped me to understand social etiquette better. And something that might be familiar to you if you have read my previous blogs; the Transition Techniques – a series of techniques that helped me to deal with changes, whether they be small or monumental in scale.  These were all incredibly effective. 

We began to notice real changes in behaviour and in our day to day lives.  I am presuming you are not stupid if you are reading this, and I wouldn’t treat you like you are and try to tell you that everything was perfect, but there were huge differences.

 I have always been an avid reader.  I do read less now because I am so busy in my day to day life, but when I was younger I would generally have at least three books on the go at any one time, and would spend the majority of my free time reading.  I don’t know if any of you read the blog I wrote on IMAGININGS, but if you did you will know that I was already creating stories in my head from a very young age – with casts of hundreds of characters, and story lines that I would create and play out over many years.  It is fairly obvious that the two things were bound to meet at some point, and at around the age of eleven I did begin writing my first horror novel.

 I remember one day saying to my Mum `I think we should write a book on these techniques we`ve been doing. ` – to my surprise she`d had the same idea.  So really that`s where the ideas for the books came from. ( you can check them out here )

We both felt that because of our knowledge and experience of autism, and our techniques for dealing with autism, that we were more than qualified to advise other families.  The thing is, you can never speak for everybody with autism, but I think that because I experience a lot of the things that the majority of autistic people experience – but I am also able to articulate and explain them in a way that not everybody with autism is – I am able to write about them in a way that people without autism can’t do.  It is not that I think that anybody without autism shouldn’t be writing about it, it is just that personally, I believe that people with autism are the best qualified to give advice on it.  It is with that principle in mind that I started writing.  Of course the Reward Plan book was co-written with my Mum.  She believes the same thing I do about autistic people being the best to give advice, but she did create all the techniques which allowed me to be able to express my views in this way.  And they are techniques that I believed at the time and still believe now, could be incredibly useful for a large number of people.  

I suppose what I am really saying is not that you shouldn’t listen to someone who isn’t autistic; it is just that when you have somebody who is autistic, and is able to articulate how things are for them, that can give parents and professionals an insight in to autism that they might not have had otherwise.  A lot of non-autistic people will look at behaviours, and things such as meltdowns from the point of view of an outsider.  Sometimes you need somebody with autism to explain the logic and the reason behind each piece of behaviour – because there is always a reason behind it – nothing is irrational, no matter how much it may appear to be.  Again, I am not trying to discredit any professionals without autism, but I think everybody would agree that when you get autistic individuals who can express the reasons behind their behaviour, it is so much more useful.  And that is basically why I started writing, I wanted to be able to try to explain to people some of the reasoning’s behind these behaviours, and some of the ways that could help.   

Everyone who has read both the Reward Plan and Transition Techniques books say they have found them incredibly helpful, and have begun to use some of the techniques themselves, so overall, I think what we have been trying to do has been working. 

Currently we are working on two more books, but right now I have no idea if they are going to be published or not.


If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?  On Twitter


Outbursts in public: When to step in and when to keep out.

You probably all have experience with outbursts/meltdowns – either yourself if you have autism, or your child with autism – losing control, shouting, hitting, spitting, and calling names.  These can be difficult enough to deal with when you are at home, but if you are out in a public place it can be much more difficult and embarrassing.  But this blog isn’t even particularly about the outbursts themselves – this blog is about something that gets me incredibly angry when I think about it – now a lot of things get me angry, but this gets me angrier than most.  It is something me and my Mum have experienced first-hand on dozens of occasions, and something most of you have probably been through.  I am talking about people interfering when somebody is having an outburst or meltdown.

Generally, this takes the form of somebody voicing their opinions on the autistic person and their behaviour, and also the parenting skills of the parent involved. In our own experience, a lot of people would tell my Mum that I needed a `good slap` or a `good hiding` when I was young and having an outburst.  Now, putting aside the fact that a fully grown man saying that a young child deserves a `hiding` is pretty odd and probably says a lot more about his personality than it does the child`s – I like to focus more on this issue – why vocalise it?  Even if you are walking down the street and you see a child looking like they are having a temper tantrum, why do you think that what the parent needs at that time is your words of wisdom?  If someone is clearly struggling to cope with their child as it is, what advice are you going to offer up to them that is going to so completely change their situation – “he needs a good slap” – Ahh, genius, thank you for enlightening us?  For those of you reading who might not understand sarcasm – that was a pretty good example of it?  There is so much wrong with going up and criticising how a parent is handling something; one, is that you have no idea what is going on for that child – you are assuming that they are some kind of spoiled brat – you have no clue if they have autism or any other condition that may affect their behaviour.  Two, you are assuming that the parent has no control over the situation – you think that they are doing something wrong, but really what business is it of yours?  Three, if they are struggling to cope, the last thing they need is a complete stranger coming over and interfering.  And Four, whether you hit your own children or not is up to you – I personally don’t see the benefits of showing children that physical violence against somebody smaller than you is ok if they were doing something you didn’t like, or if they didn’t listen to you.  But putting that to one side, coming up to somebody in the street and calling them a bad parent is liable to get you a smack, rather than the child.  And in truth it would be hugely deserved.

My advice to anyone who sees a child having an outburst or meltdown in the street, or in any public place, would be to just mind your own business.  Don’t criticise somebody without knowing what it is they are going through, and don’t presume to think that they are just standing there waiting for you to go over and impart words of wisdom to them.  Going over and asking if the parent is ok, and if you can do anything for them is alright, but don’t have a go at the child, because ninety nine percept certain all this will do is make things worse.  I have always found it funny how people are so unwilling to intervene if they see somebody being attacked or mugged in the street, but if they see a Mum struggling with a young child all of a sudden they realise they`ve got something to say.  As I say, me and my Mum have experienced this on dozens of occasions and I know lots of other people have as well.  The best advice I can give you is just to ignore these people.  It is more important to look after your child and yourself, than to waste breath conversing with people too ignorant to be worthy of a response. 


 If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)



Meltdowns blog by Paddy-Joe

Meltdowns blog by Paddy-Joe


Unfortunately meltdowns and outbursts are something that nearly everybody with autism will experience; things such as sensory overload and not recognising your own emotions can be huge contributing factors to this.  Some people with autism don’t have outbursts or meltdowns, they just revert in to themselves.  This particular blog post won’t be of any great help to them – it is more for people like myself, who do tend to have outbursts and get angry.  I suppose I really just wanted to give you my perspective on this, and a few tips, both for people with autism and their parents.

Often it can look as if people with autism have incredibly short tempers, but for the majority this isn’t true.  The things that get autistic people angry quite often aren’t the same as the things that get neuro-typical people angry.  For example, if you say something to them that somebody else might find insulting, they might not care because of their tendency to tell the truth, however offensive it may be.  But if you constantly make a noise that gets on their nerves, or insist on repeating yourself unnecessarily, you may well find yourself getting shouted at and insulted, before you have even had chance to register that you have done something wrong.  This has certainly been the case over the years with me.  The things that wound me up might not even be noticeable to a lot of people, but for me they provoke a lot of anger. Imagine that rather than the majority of people being neuro-typical, they were autistic – so everybody you talk to in your everyday life is going to be autistic – they are going to communicate with you the same way autistic people do.  However much you get on with certain autistic people the likelihood is you would not wish to spend all day, every day, with only autistic people.  Every time you go out you would only meet autistic people.  Now I think that even if you were absurdly patient, this would still drive you mad.  It works the same for autistic people, except that everybody they have to deal with is neuro-typical.  Their behaviour is so irritating to autistic people because it is so different from the way we behave.  It is not even a case of having a short temper – it is just that the sheer amount of stuff that neuro-typcal people do to annoy autistic people can build up over a period of time, and end up in meltdowns or outbursts.

 The best way of dealing with this is probably the simplest way – just talk about it with each other – and try to express what the other person does that irritates you.  If you know there is a certain behaviour of yours that provokes another person to anger, just try to stop
doing it.  I mean, whatever it is, is it really worth falling out over? Of course the usual things about recognising your emotions and learning to deal with them appropriately apply for the autistic individual – you can’t just expect other people to fit in around your behaviour – but it would be nice if they tried to minimise the amount that they irritate you.  It is not fair for either party to expect the other to completely change their behaviour without altering their own. If two or more people are going to live or work together then there has to be some kind of comprise with certain things. If you know something you do is winding up your autistic child/sibling, and it’s not something you genuinely have to do, then why keep doing it? I mean, you’re just picking a fight. What I have found with my Mum over the years is that her behaviour might be bad, but my reaction to it is just as bad or worse. When you have a meltdown you lose all sense of scale though, and that’s where the shouting, insults or hitting comes in. So I do understand if you think the behaviour of yours, which sets off the meltdown, is not that bad, but do try to remember that autistic people have a different sense of scale to you.           

Meltdowns due to emotional or sensory overload are another common thing among autistic people.  If you are autistic and your senses are heightened and you are in a very busy, noisy place, it doesn’t exactly take a genius to work out that this might be more than a little bit stressful for you.  Often this will lead to some sort of outburst that may involve shouting, name-calling or even physical violence – none of this done with any negative intent – but ultimately the consequences of this behaviour are the same, whether there is intent or not. Those consequences being that both parties are upset and the event (this may even be something like going to the shops) is ruined and time wasted.

For parents, obviously the first thing to do is to look at what situations your children are going to be in, and how long they are going to be there for – plan and talk to them beforehand about how they might feel and how they might cope with this. Be guided by them sometimes – if they think they will be ok and you keep going on at them telling them things might be bad and they might get upset, you might make things worse.  Keep an eye on them during the event – it might even be something as simple as a trip to a supermarket or going on a bus – try and bear in mind while you’re there that even if things aren’t noisy or bright to you, they may be overwhelming for your child, so don’t judge it on how you perceive the situation, judge it on how your child has reacted to previous situations.   And for the autistic individuals again – and this will keep cropping up because it’s very, very important – work at recognising your own emotions.  Before you try to learn how to deal with them, just learn to pick up on how it is you are feeling.  That in itself can have a massive impact on situations. It is not about changing who you are, it is just about trying to make life a bit easier for yourself and the people around you.  Recognising what you feel and why, isn’t the same as changing how something makes you feel.  Also, don’t be embarrassed to admit if you are finding something difficult. It is much better to admit you are feeling uncomfortable in a situation and leave, than try to tough it out and end up having a meltdown. It’s better to admit you need help with something and trust the people trying to help you, than to let your pride stop you from enjoying things.

 If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook

And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)

Post Christmas stress.


Christmas can be a very stressful time for people who have autism, but over the years I have noticed that early January can be even more stressful.  Let`s face it – it`s not a very nice time of year for anyone; Christmas and New Year are over and it`s back to the same old routine.  And you might be thinking `Well, wasn’t it changing from the same old routine that created the stress? ` Well, that`s true, but really, any change has the potential to be stressful and difficult for some people with autism, even if it`s changing back to the way things used to be.  Your child might still enjoy Christmas, even though its stressful to them; getting presents and changing their diet might feel a bit over-whelming, but the likelihood is that even if it`s sub-conscious, they will enjoy it so going back to school or college will obviously be unpleasant enough without the fact that any change in routine is difficult for somebody with autism.  This is perhaps easier to understand for non-autistic people because the likelihood is that you don’t particularly enjoy that change either.  Certainly, looking back at my life, early January was always a time I had a lot of fall-outs with my Mum and felt very upset for reasons I couldn’t quite place.  Obviously, it didn’t take us long to work out why this was.  We used several techniques to try to deal with this.  One of the things was the Reward Plan – if you don’t know about this details of this can be found in our first book `create a reward plan for your child with Asperger Syndrome` – but it is basically a chart that rewards good behaviour, or rather rewards the absence of negative behaviour.  We used a lot of Scripts, Signs and Sketches to try to help me to understand why I was feeling like I was, and what an appropriate response was to those feelings.  The more I used them, the more I was able to handle things, therefore the more points I got.  Used together these techniques can be highly effective. (I am not going to go in to details of all these techniques now because that`s not what this blog is about, but as I said, full details of them can be found in our books.)  With the use of these techniques we managed to make this time of year a lot less stressful than it used to be.  I am sure there are other techniques out there and I don’t know which ones you might have tried, but I think given how stressful the end of December and the beginning of January can be, it is definitely worth trying something, and I know from experience that our techniques do work when used right. 

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook





My imaginings are something that I have always done – right from being a baby.  I would scrunch my arms up tight near my head and tense my muscles, sometimes to the point of getting incredibly painful cramps in my legs or arms.  To an outside observer this may have looked very painful or strange – one teacher in nursery told my parents she thought I had epilepsy and was having fits in class, but in my head I was creating stories.  The best way to describe it I suppose is like having a film projector in my mind – things play out like films in my mind.  I don’t have to close my eyes to see these, and I can still observe everything going on in the world at the same time.  These aren’t simply creative thoughts – they are entire films, either live action or animation inside my mind.  I create the characters, give them back-stories, choreograph fight scenes, and edit some of these things, all in my own mind.  It is no wonder that there is some physical effect after doing all of that.  I do these a lot less often now, but when I was young I had about five or six series of imaginings that I would go back to virtually every day.  And when I say series, I mean every single one of these imaginings followed on from the one before it.  I suppose they were really more like T.V. shows than films in that respect, because there was so many of them.  There were casts of hundreds of characters and hours and hours of entertainment.  Sometimes characters would cross-over, but that was never just random, I always found ways to weave the two worlds together in my head.

 Music would always stimulate my imaginings more than anything else, but when I read I see everything described in the book as I am reading it, so it is as if I am watching a film at the same time as I am reading a book.  I don’t know how many people do this, but with me it was never anything conscious, it just happened.  I know a lot of autistic people have imaginings, but they might have their own names for them.  For me they really highlight one of the most positive aspects of autism; heightened creativity and imagination.  Now a lot of people will tell you that all autistic individuals are boring people who can’t think outside of a certain small set of rules, and have no real creativity, but this simply isn’t true at all.  I think mine, and other people`s imaginings are a great example of this, and on a personal level, I have been writing since I was eleven years old.  The two books I have published are both books about autism (these can be purchased here ) I have also been writing fantasy and horror novels from a young age and hope to get one of these published sometime soon.  Every single one of those books started out as an imagining in my head first before taking shape on the page.

I know that not all autistic people have imaginings and others may experience them differently, or have different outward physical signs than I do, but I do know that the hand and arm scrunching and muscle tensing is fairly common.  My advice would be not to worry about it.  Obviously if you are autistic or have an autistic child it is best not to do those things out in public when everybody is watching, but overall I would try to see imaginings as a very positive thing.  Certainly for me, I don’t know where any ideas for books would have come from if it wasn’t for my imaginings. 

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS? On Twitter Facebook