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Autismo... in... Space!

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[01 Nov 2006|05:53pm]

I've mentioned in here before that I tend not to discuss my autism with people I know in real life (at least not straight away). For a start, it's easier to talk about it online where I can edit and re-edit my thoughts, spend as long as I wish getting them in order, and can point people over to useful websites etc... In real life I can get a little flustered, and this makes me forget things, which in turn makes me sound unsure of myself and probably a little pathetic. The other main reason is that I want people to get to know me for myself, rather than judging everything I do in the light of my Aspergers. This way I find that when I do tell them I'm autistic, they're quite surprised (and this is gratifying because it proves to me that my so-called "quirky behaviour" isn't so alarming to NTs).

I have been told that I'm the kind of person who takes a while to get to know properly. I would say this is true, I rarely open myself up to people unless I feel comfortable with them, and that I can trust them. I would say it takes me at least a year of being acquianted with someone before I feel perfectly comfortable with them (obviously there are exceptions - sometimes I meet someone I "click" with quite quickly, other times I can know someone for many years and still feel uneasy in their prescence.)

Anyway I'm getting far too caught up in the explanation and not getting to the point of this post quickly enough... (I do that a lot, I know...)

So the other day I was having lunch with a friend (let's call her... Hmmm... Jenny.) I have known this girl for over 2 years now, I like her a lot and I find her easy to talk to. I have never told her I'm autistic. I've considered it, but didn't really know how to bring it up, and it also seemed ultimately pointless... But during the course of the conversation I mentioned my brothers were autistic and she claimed I had never said that before (I'm sure I have, it probably didn't sink in). I said to her "My mum has five children and Charlie [my sister] is the only one without any autistic traits."
She looked at me. "What?"
I nodded.
And so on... She told me she had no idea, and I said that was the reaction I usually got. I explained some of my over-sensitivity and social interaction problems to her. ("So that's why I may sometimes look like I'm not, or that I'm not listening when I really am...")

When reflecting on this conversation afterwards I thought "I don't have many friends who know I'm autistic" before adding "I don't have many friends full stop..."
Which is something that I never really notice until I actually sit down and think about it. There are people I enjoy socialising with, people I have good conversations with when I meet them, but how many of them would say I was a "good friend" of theirs?
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Test Revisited... [01 Nov 2006|05:33pm]

Earlier this year (last January, in fact) I took an online quiz (http://www.rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php) about Aspergers which I found very interesting. It had an unusual scoring system - giving you an "Aspie" score and an "NT" score. The test is being reworked and constantly updated, and the author is now on version 7. I took it again today...

Peff's Results in January
Your Aspie score: 142
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 56
You are very likely an Aspie

Peff's Results in November
Your Aspie score: 144 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 45 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie

So my score is roughly the same (though apparently I'm a little more autistic and a little less "normal" today *laughs*) I notice in this quiz there are some statements that I agree with very strongly (eg "Do you dislike it when people turn up at your home uninvited?" or "Before doing something or going somewhere, do you need to have a picture in your mind of what's going to happen so as to be able to prepare yourself mentally first?").

I quite like this test, it seems that the author has done a lot of research into the day-to-day life of an Aspie rather than following a dry medical text. For example, one may not think they have a problem with sensitivty to sound until they consider a question like "Do you have problems distinguishing voices from background noise, or from other voices?"
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Social [13 Oct 2006|03:08pm]

Some days I find social interaction easier than others. Sometimes I just force myself to talk to people.

Outgoing NT's can just walk up to people they don't know and strike up a conversation. How do they do that?! It's incredible.

Yesterday at Uni I was sharing a lift with 3 people who were going to the same seminar as me. I've never spoken to them before, I've seen them around every so often for the past 2 years though! So I could have taken that lift ride in silence. But no! They were discussing the upcoming seminar. I could contribute to this discussion! So I leapt in (with a self-deprecating remark). Well, the girl looked at me in surprise. One of the guys looked at me as though listening, and the other guy actually talked to me. So, yes!

Some days, it isn't so scary ^_^

I told Greg (my boyfriend) about this in the evening. He asked if it had made me happy and I said yes, so he hugged me and told me he was proud of me ^_^
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Troubled Times [24 Aug 2006|01:16pm]

Over the summer I visited my dad. His wife (my stepmum, Trish) has just had a baby so I had to come and visit. I warned my dad beforehand that I might not show an extreme level of enthusiasm towards the baby, but that he shouldn't be offended if this was the case. I just don't get excited over the same things as everyone else. He lovingly assured me that he and Trish would be offended if I didn't appear interested enough.

Anyway, meeting the baby was fine. He was quiet and un-pukey, and I like babies well enough. I just don't coo over them so much. The problem was being at my dad's house for a few days. I've never felt particularly comfortable there, but I can't really bring it up because it's exactly the kind of thing he'll get upset about. I just tried to stay out of their way as much as possible, and help out sometimes.

I have a problem with helping my dad because I always feel intensely criticised. I'm very thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, I admit it. I feel a lot of pressure from my dad, really. If he asks me a trivia question and I don't know the answer, a big deal gets made about it "Oh my god - something Peff doesn't know!!" and that upsets me.

At one point my dad said he was going to start making dinner, and asked me to check on the boiling potatoes. At this point I assumed he hadn't yet started, and would tell me when he'd put the potatoes onto boil. Time passed and I heard no word from him, so I went into the kitchen and found my sister taking care of everything. He'd put the potatoes on and left without a word. Later that evening my stepmum made a point of telling my dad that my sister had done all the work and that I hadn't checked on the kitchen until there was an advert break on TV. She did it with a laugh so I wasn't supposed to upset, but it actually really got to me. It made it sound like I was being lazy. I didn't even realise there was an advert break. I didn't leave earlier because A) I didn't realise the potatoes were even on and B) I thought my stepmum would think I was rude if I left her alone in the front room.

The worst event came, however, the day before I left. I was quietly keeping out of the way when my dad called me for dinner. I didn't even realise he'd been making anything. I got my food and sat down, then my dad offered to make me a drink and left for the kitchen. When he was out of the room my stepmum said to me, in the iciest voice you can imagine, "Did it ever occur to you to offer to make dinner?"

I was really shocked. It was a very evil tone of voice and it really really got to me. So much in fact that as I'm writing this up, a month later, I have tears in my eyes. She was basically accusing me of being lazy and rude, and that really hurt. I had helped out when I was there. I even went down the shops for them, I did hoovering, I checked on the baby. And, yes, I had considerd offering to make dinner but I was too scared to because every time I've cooked for my dad in the past I've done something wrong, something he's criticised. I don't know my way around his kitchen and I would feel weird in that environment. I feel that anything I made wouldn't be good enough for him. But I would have been happy to help him with anything he wanted. I did help with cooking when I was there.

I went upstairs and cried my eyes out. My dad came to see me and we had a talk. Trish told me that she thought I wasn't offering to help because I "didn't care" and that made me cry even more. She said to me "you're very sensitive but you need to be more aware of others." Well I do my fucking best, but it isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world for me, obviously. I've tried to talk to my dad about autism before but I guess he's forgotten all about that.

When talking to my sister on the train the next day I summed it up as "So basically he said that he doesn't actually mind if I help out around the house, he just wants me to offer to help sometimes so he can say no." And she said " Well, that makes sense, doesn't it?"

"Makes sense to some people."

I hate situations like that, cos it makes me feel that no matter how hard I try I'll never be good enough. It can be exhausting trying to work out what's expected of me and I can't keep it up constantly. But then when I pull back to recuperate, something like this happens and it really, really gets to me. Usually I'm fine, my autism doesn't cause me too many problems. I have a boyfriend, I have friends, I can cope with most social situations quite well. But then something like that happens, something that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't autistic. And it makes me feel like I'll always be an outsider.
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[04 Aug 2006|06:14pm]

At the moment I'm staying at my boyfriend's mum's house. The place is always full of people (Greg has 4 younger siblings) and they have a lot of family close by so there are frequent visits from aunts, uncles, cousins and their grandmother. The first night I arrived I not only had to meet my boyfriend's mum for the first time, and all the siblings, but my boyfriend's grandmother and his mum's second cousin! Textbook "rabbit in headlights" time for an Aspie, but I think I did Ok... I just tried to stay relaxed and I trusted Greg to look after me and make sure I didn't get too overwhelmed.

Greg and I were good friends before we eventually got together, and in that time I educated him about autism. He's actually one of the few people I feel I can talk to about autism in real life - a lot of my friends/acquaintances don't know I'm an Aspie. Greg has even said that he finds my autistic traits "cute" - he likes the way my mind works in such a logical way compared to other people, and he's constantly impressed by my memory for small details and my extensive knowledge of trivia!

We're going to be living together soon so we'll see whether he still finds it "cute" after being exposed to it 24 hours a day! (Actually, I think he'll be fine ^_^)
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ACKNOWLEDGE [04 Aug 2006|06:03pm]

When I was little, my dad would always say to me...


because sometimes he would talk to me and I would give him no sign that I had heard him. I've mentioned this in here before - it's a very common Aspie trait. Again I stress that it's not rudeness, and it's not intended to offend at all. Sometimes I don't respond because my mind is concentrating on something else (maybe I'm reading something, maybe I'm trying to listen to something on TV or radio, maybe there's something visually interesting in my line of sight that I find quite absorbing...) Sometimes I don't respond because I think it's obvious to the other person that I heard what they said, so there's no need to react. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the information they've given me and my expression stays blank while I try and assimilate what thye've said. And sometimes I think I have acknowledged them, but not realised that my actions were inadequate to their needs.

Sometimes I've been in a conversation and a remark has been directed at me, and I have made a slight gesture to show acknowledgment (like a smile for example), only to discover that everyone's attention has become fixed on me because they think I haven't properly responded...

I was talking about this to Greg, my new boyfriend. He said that out of all my autistic traits, the lack of acknowledgement was the only one that had troubled him. Like most NTs he would mistake my silence for disinterest, but now he knows the reasons behind it. He also knows that if he really wants a verbal response from me, he just has to tag a question on the end of the phrase... eg "Don't you think so, Peff?"
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[25 Jul 2006|03:30pm]

Chances of Having an Autistic Child - 1 in 166Collapse )
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Changes [25 Jul 2006|03:02pm]

Well, it's been necessary to make some changes to autismoinspace, as Richard (genesol) and I are no longer a couple. I originally intended this to be an individual journal anyway, but thought it would be interesting to get Richard involved, to have a non-autistic point of view. I wanted him to write about his experiences with an autistic partner, as well as the problems he encountered due to his dyslexia. As anyone reading this journal will have noticed, he never really conributed here. So autismoinspace is becoming what it was intended to be... and what it always really was, in practice.

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Autism Rocks [26 May 2006|02:53pm]

The first time I noticed myself rocking was in my late teens. This was way before I even suspected I was an autismo. I don't do it consciously, and I only seem to do it when I'm sitting on the floor cross-legged. It's not like the stereotypical image of a hunched up autistic, clutching their knees to their chest, rocking and mumbling. It's just a very, very slight bobbing back and forth... I often don't even realise I'm doing it at first. And then I realise and I wonder if anyone has noticed. But I've never had anyone make any comments about it.
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Like, literally... [26 May 2006|02:49pm]

If you know anything about Aspergers, you probably know that we have trouble with interpreting statements in a too-literal way.
The number of time someone has said to me something along the lines of "Peff, would you like to pass me that pile of newspapers...?"
and I will say "...No" because I don't want to do it.
And they look at me and think I'm trying to be funny.
If I'm quick enough I will say "Oh you mean 'Peff, please pass me that pile of newspapers'" and if I'm unlucky the NT will be annoyed with what they see as me being cheeky... If I'm lucky they will be "patient" with me...
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[23 May 2006|04:07pm]

My brother Jack is taking part in a study on autism at Oxford University! They wire him up and study his brain activity, how cool is that? XD

Apparently he's going through a very high functioning phase at the moment - so much so that one of the researchers asked my mum "Does he have a diagnosis...?"

When I went to visit them last time, he drew me a map of the world, complete with lines for the equator and the tropics, and some latitude and longitude notes. I have it on my bedroom wall.
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[08 May 2006|02:37pm]


June the 18th

Don't forget ^_^
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[08 Mar 2006|03:26pm]

I had a chat to my mum the other day. As always the conversation turned to autism... My autism and my brothers' autism.
She was talking about my tendency to "stare off into space" and "go into [my] own little world." She says that sometimes she wants to talk to me, but she sees my attention is focused on reading, or watching TV, or I'm pbviously thinking deeply about something, and how she's learnt to leave me alone until I'm "back." Because if you try and tell me anything of importance while I'm engrossed in something else, I won't be able to process the usual NT responses... the nodding of head and asking of pertinent questions... those small body language things that let you know I'm listening. That doesn't always come naturally to me (sometimes it does! If I am quite drunk or having an exceptionally high functioning day...) and it requires a lot of processing power for me to remember them and act them out!
My mum is quite sensitive, so it upsets her if I seem like I'm not listening. Then I get upset, because it wasn't my intention to be rude at all.

It's compromise... I have learnt to do those things you need me to do... you have to learn when it's apropriate to expect me to do them!
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A Literal Turn of Phrase [08 Mar 2006|03:02pm]

My dad works for a company based in Newcastle (where I live) so he comes up for meetings and sometimes we meet for lunch. Because he lives a few hundred miles away it would be a nightmare to drive or catch a plane. He travels up by plane.

We arranged to meet up today and I was running late, so I texted him to let him know. He replied with "That's Ok but I have to fly off at 2pm"

He had to fly off at 2pm? Does that mean he needs to be at the airport by then? Or his plane leaves by then? If that's the time his plane leaves, there's no chance I'll be able to meet him...


"Fly off" means he'll have to return to the office at 2pm.

Way to confuse your autistic daughter...
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[20 Feb 2006|01:58pm]

This site http://users.telenet.be/neral/neral_diagnosisdata2.html has a list of "qualities" that a doctor looks for when diagnosing autism.
I had a flick through the list and...

Disobidience - unawareness of wrong doing

That made tears prick my eyes (and not only cos it's spelt wrong...)
I might expand later. I'm being observed right now.
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[19 Feb 2006|01:31pm]

For me, the worst of my problems is the profound social isolation-the feeling that even though one may talk and interact with people, the fact that one cannot interact in socially accepted ways creates the feeling, at least for me, of being some sort of phantom-someone who is there, but not fully perceptible. For example, when I am in conversations, I am usually off to the side, essentially ignored until I say something.
~ emperorofdark writing in asperger

I know where emperorofdark is coming from here. I'm very high-functioning, which means my social skills aren't so bad. As mentioned before, a lot of people who don't know I'm autistic have told me they see me as "shy." I'm really not shy in the NT sense, it's just I have real trouble breaking into other people's conversations, or striking up conversations with people I don't know. Sometimes I just stand silently by while people talk, waiting for an acknowledgement of my presence. When I feel I know someone, when they are no longer a "stranger" to me, I am much more comfortable talking to them. I don't worry that they may see me as "weird." It's really not a case of shyness or lack of confidence.
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[13 Feb 2006|10:00pm]

Ah... the perennial autismo problem... Seeing other people's point of view...

It's not that I can't empathise with people - I think I'm more considerate of other people's sensitivites than many NTs I've met - but sometimes I forget that people may not know what I'm talking about ^_^ *laughs* especially when I say something alittle ambiguous.

Yesterday, I was watching TV with two of my housemates. They commented that one of the actresses had very wideset eyes.
I said this was because she had recieved too much sonic hedgehog. My housemates looked confused, so I expanded: too much sonic headgehog and your eyes are wideset and your nose broad; not enough and your eyes are very close together and your nose narrow... sometimes animals, eg pigs, are born after being exposed to too much sonic hedgehog and have almost two complete faces...

And then I realised they didn't know what I meant by sonic hedgehog...

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[06 Feb 2006|12:11pm]

The other night I was walking home with two of my housemates. It was very cold, and cold air makes my ears hurt. I put my hands over my ears to try and warm them up, co incidentally just as one of my housemates started stamping her feet very hard on the pavement.
She stopped and said "Oh sorry, does that hurt you?"

She thought her loud stamping was what made me cover my ears. I was touched by her consideration ^_^

Last night there was a quiz thing on TV presented by Professor Ray Winston (we love Ray Winston we do). You had to complete these tests and get a score in different "skills" area. There were 7 areas, and my three lowest were:
~ Understanding emotions
~ Spatial awarness
~ Physical ability


But I got full marks for
~ Musical ability
~ Logical ability
~ Creativity
~ Narrative ability

Richard likes to tease me over my love of tests...
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[20 Jan 2006|03:05pm]

I visited my mum over Christmas, and as usual we had some discussions about autism.
As I have mentioned, my brothers Jack and Daniel are on the spectrum. Apparently my little sister Lucy (2 years old) is now "cause for concern." She is excessively shy around people and sometime will cover her hands with her ears and try to hide. Now... she's only 2 years old, and 2 year olds are difficult. I think my mum is very cautious with Lucy because she knows what to look out for, whereas the oddness manifested in Jack and myself passed her by (it was obvious something was up with Danny when he never started talking). Also, Lucy doesn't usually interact with any kids but her brothers, so she might be picking up the covering-of-ears etc from watching Daniel. (Jack doesn't seem too bothered by noises. This Christmas he got a xylophone toy and started it whacking it gleefuly. Danny and I covered our ears and went "waaahhh!" Charlie, my NT sister, was amused and said "Hahaha look at the Aspie kids!")

Yeah, anyway, I wanted to write about a conversation I had with my mum...

I was reminiscing about childhood events that take on a new significance...

Anecdote One
I was in primary school, 4 or 5 years old. It was the end of breaktime, and all the kids ran gleefully into the classroom. Well, maybe not all the kids, but I certainly did. The teacher told me off for running indoors, and said "Go outside again."
So I went outside. She didn't say "go out outside and walk in again slowly" or "go outside and come in when you feel calmer" or anything like that... So I just stood there... waiting...
I don't know how long I was there. The headmistress saw me and asked what I was doing. I explained, and she laughed and took me inside the classroom. The teacher had forgotten all about me, and she called me a "silly billy" for not coming back inside.

Anecdote Two
In the same primary school, with the same teacher. She had sent me on an errand to the library (which was really just a small room with some bookshelves). She told me to bring her a certain book (I forget the title, if she ever told it to me). She said it was blue and shiny.
So I had in my mind a very clear image of the book... It would be a normal sized book, normally bound, with a bright blue metallic cover. I went to library and I couldn't see this book anywhere. I didn't want to return empty handed, because that would mean I had failed. I didn't want to bring the wrong book, because then the teacher would be disappointed with me. I stood and I stared and I searched for the shiny blue book, but I couldn't find it.
Eventually the teacher came to find me. She pointed out the book she had meant. It was all wrong! It wasn't even a book, it was a spiral-bound file! It wasn't the colour that shiny blue had meant in my mind - it was a dark navy blue colour, with a glossy finish. And it had a picture on the front! A black and white photograph! She hadn't mentioned there was a picture on it! I was really upset that I had failed my task, even though I had done the best I could with the information I'd been given.

I recounted these to my mum, and she laughed, and then she sounded upset/apologetic. She said it was obvious I was a bit different from the other kids but "autism! I'd never even heard of it..." It was an apology of sorts. Sometimes when I look back at things like that I think How could they not have known? How did no one notice? I have been slightly angry about it, but to be honest I don't care too much. If they had picked up on my autism in primary school, what would have happened? Maybe instead of being the harmless weirdo who sat on her own at playtimes, I would have been the special needs weirdo, and been bullied even worse than I was. And to be honest, I don't think my mum would have coped very well at the news that her firstborn daughter was autistic.

So we shall have to see what the future holds for Lucy... but I would like to think she (and my mum) can look to me as an example of an independent and happy autistic adult.

Also, my mum said to me over Christmas "I wonder if Jack and Daniel will ever have kids...?"
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[10 Jan 2006|12:51am]


Richard's Results
Your Aspie score: 104
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 94
You are more Aspie than neurotypical

Peff's Results
Your Aspie score: 142
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 56
You are very likely an Aspie

Peff is approximately 40 points more Aspie than Richard, Richard is about 40 points more neurotypical than Peff. Now we must do battle!

Just going to point out... Richard's rating doesn't mean he is an Aspie. Many people (like slydexics) share traits with autismos but it doesn't mean they are autistic. He's just slightly unusual compared to Mr Average Neurotypical.

Which is a good thing XD
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