Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Autism and Relaxing Days

Everyone needs time to relax – autistic people most of all – but what people do to relax can differ greatly.  The things a lot of people find relaxing can be stressful for people with autism.  For myself, and people like me a day of just doing nothing needs as much planning as any other day.  Below I explain why this might be, and how I relax as an autistic person.

It’s all about structure, and if I don’t have any then the day is going to be stressful. I don’t have to have everything planned out to the last detail, but I need at least a rough structure around what I am going to do, and when. I can’t have this structure six days a week, and then get rid of it on a day I am resting.  I still need to plan when I am getting up, what time I am eating or watching a film.  If I don’t do this then I end up spending the whole day getting more and more stressed out about not knowing what I am doing and when.  If I plan then I can relax and have fun, but if I leave it to chance I get nothing done, and feel more stressed than I did at the start of the day.

I can’t just wake up at any time and take the day as it comes. If I know I have the house to myself one day I will plan in advance what I am going to do.  I might say what time I will get up, what films I will watch, if I will do any reading that night.  And for the most part I will stick to those plans.  I know for a fact if I did not have them I would be unable to relax.  It can seem a bit odd; my Mum might ask me to do something and I will grow angry as I have plans.  But those plans might just be to sit and read!  Even lie-ins are not something I find relaxing.  I might sleep in sometimes, but for the most part I need to be up at a set time or I feel my whole routine or plan for the day is off – even if this is just by half an hour.

The fact is uncertainty, and stress are not relaxing for anyone. So I have to make plans in order to get any benefit from rest days. I know this is very different from how most people relax.  Most people I know are happy to just be around the house all day doing nothing, and while that idea is nice I just can’t do it.

I might be thinking and planning for days which film I am going to watch on a night where I have the house to myself.  Does it matter that much?  Well I am sure I would enjoy any film, but if I don’t plan it in advance I may very well be standing there for an hour trying to pick the perfect film to watch. Forward planning is key for autistic people, even when it comes to relaxing!

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

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

Work vs Rest.

One of the things that is talked about a lot when it comes to dealing with stress, and overloads in autistic people is rest days; basically just taking a day to relax, and not having to worry about doing anything.  It might be a set day each week, or it might just be decided depending on how the individual feels day to day.  I myself talk about them, and advise autistic people to take them, and not to feel guilty for not doing much on those days.  But as much as I talk about them, and know them to be a good thing I still find it hard to take my own advice, and let myself have days off.  I find that I have a lot to fit in; I write both books and articles, I edit my work, I like to read, work out, and watch films most days. There are also the things I might not want to do that need to be fitted in: jobs around the house, or going out somewhere. Well if I take a whole day off doing things like that, or even if I just relax and only do a small amount I start to feel guilty, as if I should be doing something. I know in my own head that the quality of my work will be poor if I work on days when I feel overwhelmed, or even on the point of a shut down.  And yet I still find it hard to allow myself to have a day of resting.

I like to work and I like to end the day knowing I have done a lot of work.  But it is about time I started taking my own advice.  There is no point pushing yourself past the point where you work starts to slump.  Working hard is great if you also work well, but you can work as hard and as long as you like only for it to be pointless if you don’t work well.

I find that something as simple as having a rest day means that I am able to come back and do better work both in my job, and just around the house, and in life in general.

The issue is trying to stop feeling guilty, or lazy for saying you are having a day off.  In fact relaxing, and resting is a key part of working well.  Pushing yourself to your limits is fine, but its also OK to set up a good work and rest balance, and stick to this.  Different things work for different people, but my advice would be – if you feel you need rest days, then take them. Don’t worry about feeling lazy, just take the day off, and get back to things the next day.  It is a part of autism – at least for some people it is.  It might mean you clash with the way you like to do things, but finding a way of being at ease with the idea of resting is important if you wish to get the best from yourself work-wise.

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

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

Writing about writing on a cake

Let`s talk about the cake story.  You know the one; woman goes in to a shop, buys a cake, it has messy writing on, and she finds out the girl who wrote it is autistic.  Moral of the story is be kind.  We all know it by now.  But what I want to talk about in this blog is how different people reacted to it – both in positive and negative ways.  Some people, a lot of people, loved it.  It made their day.  Some people were indifferent, and some people flat-out hated it.  Who was right? And why?

The people who loved it said that the story was heartwarming, it made them happy to think of someone being so kind to a person with autism.  A lot of autistic people liked it as it made them feel as if getting a job was not beyond them.  Parents of people with autism seemed to feel the same way.  It was, to the people who viewed it this way, a positive story in the middle of a lot of bad news.

Some people were totally indifferent.  A friend of mine told me her sister showed her the story.  My friends reaction was something like this ” So a woman bought a cake?”  She wanted to check with me, as I have autism, what I thought of the story and I told her that I felt pretty much the same as she did.  She just could not get what the big deal was with a woman going out, and buying a cake.

What about people who did not like the cake story?  Some people did say, in the wake of the cake story being on everyone’s news feed, that it in fact did more harm than good.  It can be read as saying that having a normal human interaction with an autistic person is, in and of itself, an act of kindness.  That treating autistic people with any level of respect should be seen as heartwarming.

So who is right?  I know it`s not that easy so perhaps I should rephrase that.  What do I think might be a better thing to talk about?  I can’t say it`s right, all I can say is that it is what I feel. I fall in to the camp that thinks of it as a negative thing.  It feels to me like those awkward times when your hear an older person saying something like ” He is black, but he is such a good Dad.” They think they mean well, and are trying their best to be kind, but it just comes out all wrong!  The implication obviously being that the majority of black men would not make good Dads.  Even though this isn`t stated, the racism is still there.  I totally see that the woman who first posted this just thought she had done something kind as she was told she`d made someone’s day.  I don’t blame her, or think she is bad.  And I don’t think you`re bad or nasty if you share this or enjoy it.  I just think it`s misguided.

Let me explain why, instead of just saying I don’t like it.  First of all I genuinely do not see the big deal here. Woman buys cake. That’s all I get from the story.  I might well be missing something, and if I am point it out to me!  But what it feels like to me is that just because the woman who wrote on the cake was autistic this buying of a cake became an act of kindness.  I don’t see the big deal and yet whenever I ask anyone what it is all they tell me it`s “Its cute.” or “it`s a feel good story.”  I might be over-thinking this, but I am autistic so that’s kind of what I do.   So bear with me here for a minute. I think stories like this do a lot more harm than good for autistic people.  If someone comes out and says “Autistic people are only there to make me feel good or to be pitied”  Then everybody would react. It`s right there in your face.  But things like this I feel are part of an insidious movement that seems to say just that, without even meaning to.  It feels like we are at a point where if a non-autistic  person decides not to bully, or to just interact normally with someone who is autistic, we celebrate them.

Should she not just be doing that anyway?  Why is just not shouting at, or bullying someone an act of kindness. It`s basically just how we should be all the time with anyone.  What gets me is quite how much people seem to love this story?  You can say I am reading too much in to a happy story if you like, and you are free to disagree with everything I have said.  But I still feel how I feel.  I can’t help the fact that this story seems all wrong on so many levels to me.

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

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

Autism and Sameness.

Everyone knows change, however small, can be hard for autistic people.  But what a lot of people don’t think about when contemplating change is the changes that can take place in one room. This can be something as small as an item not being put back quite right after cleaning. Things that might not even be noticed by someone without autism, but they can have a real impact on autistic people.  I found things such as a lamp being moved from one place to another very hard to deal with when I was younger.

Furniture being rearranged might not sound like a big deal, but to someone with autism it can be. If they are used to the room being a certain way then seeing it all changed around can throw them.  For me I know where my chair is, and what view of the TV I get from it, how easy it is to use my shelves, and things like that.  So just that one small change gives me a whole lot of new things to get used to.

A new piece of furniture being added can have the same impact.  Add to this the fact that it might mean an old piece is thrown out, then you can see why it’s so much for someone with autism to get used to.  It’s not to say they won’t like the new furniture, but it changes the look of the room, and is therefore something they need time to adjust to.

For me – and I am sure a lot of other autistic people – the big one is having my own things moved, and then put back in the wrong place.  But for me the wrong place could just be a few inches to one side. It’s something other people might not even notice, but to me it is a huge thing.  When I was younger I would have meltdowns if my Mum put something of mine back in a slightly different place after cleaning.  Even now I have to admit I would not be too happy about it!

I am older now, and I do find some change easier to deal with, for example changing a room around.  In fact I am always changing things around in my own room.  But I still find it hard to have my belongings touched or moved.  I like to put DVD’S and books on the arm of my chair, and I find it hard when someone else moves them even if it is just to clean. I won’t have a meltdown, but I will get annoyed and tell them not to do it again.

I think most of this stems from having a good eye for detail. I and many other autistic people can pick up on where a book was on the shelf, and the fact that it has now changed places.  We know if our view of the TV is off as someone has not quite put it back right after cleaning behind it.  And being able to notice this can make things hard. There is also the need to control our environment that a lot of autistic people have.  We experience this as we often find ourselves at a loss with the world, and being able to control some part of it – even if it is just a room, or our own belongings in that room – can help. When we see that changed we feel a loss of control.

Change of this kind cannot be avoided; there is no way around that. But there are ways to help.  One is a level of respect from family.  Moving the belongings of someone who is autistic can have a very real impact on them; there are genuine reasons why they have those items where they are, and why they would be upset if someone moved them.  Try talking to the autistic person, or at least give fair warning before you move stuff.  And as always with autism, planning can be key; talking about what is going to change in a room, how and when.  This won’t solve all the issue but it will help.

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

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762