We Make Enough Adjustments, Now It’s Your Turn

This post has a high possibility of turning into a bit of a rant, but I am also going to try and keep it from going that way and explain or persuade more than shout at people. I know that the people who need this message are very unlikely to ever see it , and that the people who are reading it are likely to nod sympathetically to what I am saying to you all. However a part of writing this will be about sharing emotions, sharing thoughts and fears and frustrations with you all, maybe they will help you find relatability; we are not alone.

This title might seem a bit of an odd one but it is something I think more and more about as we head past the six months mark of Covid-19 dominating our lives. When you think of all the things that autistic people have to learn to do, all of the things we have to tolerate and psych ourselves up for. These things are daily, but more than that these things will never go away, we will always be autistic and I am so glad I live in a world where I now embrace my autism as a huge part of my identity. I generally feel, and hope, that most of us wouldn’t want to remove these struggles that we face if it also meant removing all other things that autism makes us. We do all of this to thrive, to be accepted, to be loved and happy and independent and so many other things.

Yet there are many people out there in the world right now who refuse to wear a mask for a short time because they don’t think people should make them. There are people out there (I have heard this on our own morning news!) who are aware that they have higher Covid numbers than an adjoining country, who see that their risk is likely to rise, and who still think it is perfectly ok for them to visit a less populated country for a holiday away from the risks.

I am not for a moment shunning those who cannot wear a mask, I know there are a lot of people who can’t wear them for legitimate mental and physical health reasons. I know that autism in itself is considered a reasonable exemption, and having had to wear masks only a few times I have been consistently aware of this new object on my face which moves around, makes me hot, itches and such. I am wearing a mask because I can cope with this for the amount of time I need to wear one, and because I have two autoimmune diseases and weak muscle tone which could possibly mean this disease would be very bad for me.

I try to maintain social distances despite the people around me who are not, and despite dyspraxia and dyscalculia both meaning that I struggle to keep a visual guide of the two meter distance in my head. I am trying to remember the rules of situations, trying to keep up with cleaning my hands despite the strong smell of the alcohol gels and the fact that these gels often lead to my blood sugar checks being inaccurate.

I have noticed a huge rise in my anxiety levels whenever I go anywhere, not only because of the virus risks but also because I have barely had any social contact for months. If anything, it has made me and my partner more aware of the body language reading skills we have obtained and don’t naturally have. In many ways body language and speech nuanncess for us are like learning a second language. If you took a language at high school and haven’t used it since then the chances are that you don’t remember it well but that you would re-learn it quicker the second time. This is  where we are sitting, in a world where we are losing skills, we are losing confidence, and for me it is all happening as I am heading into the final year of my University degree and will need to start thinking about where I go from here.

This anxiety that I am experiencing now, is the same anxiety that I have seen and heard people claim a reason not to wear a mask in public. I totally respect and agree that there are some who are in this position, and for this reason, I won’t glare at someone for their lack of mask even though I know there are some people out there who have never experienced anxiety at a high level but who claim to due to some discomfort.

I guess what I am trying to say to everyone in this post is that I acknowledge all of those out there who can’t wear a mask for legitimate reasons. I understand that wearing masks is difficult and I myself do find it hard to wear them, even harder to wear them and also be expected to communicate with others despite a new and very significant sensory invasion. I do not understand, and have genuine anger towards, people out there who are ignoring the rules, who are deliberately trying to side step them because they see a small inconvenience in their lives as something to be avoided.

I want to tell those people that many of us who are neurodiverse, who have invisible and visible disabilities, we have never experiences a small inconvenience. For us, some of the same inconveniences can be debilitating, they can destroy an entire day, they can prevent sleep, cause panic attacks or mean we miss out on things we enjoy. Those things happen a lot, they happen regardless of what other people around us are doing but at the moment, during a pandemic, well these things can happen because of that guy who couldn’t be bothered wearing a mask because it’s hard to talk to people, they happen because of those who don’t try and maintain a distance from others despite rules having been put in place to avoid it.

Nearly fourteen years ago my family and I returned from a holiday abroad which had gone well and we were heading back to school and work when my Mum suddenly started to become ill. She was sent home from her work at lunch time with flu symptoms, by the time my Dad had finished work and brought me home my mum was in a lot of pain – pain everywhere which she couldn’t pinpoint, she had a high fever and was incredibly dizzy. A few hours later my Mum was in the Intensive Care Unit, it was two months before she was able to come home, a year before she could return to work. She is in the very low 10% of people to survive Tick Bourne Encephalitis with minor deficits. The stats for surviving with major deficits is 30%. Sixty percent of people who get this rare infection which causes the brain to swell will die.

I don’t remember a huge amount from my Mum being so ill, and I think I was in some ways lucky that I didn’t really understand how serious it was. My Mum mentioned the other day how she has already had a close call with death and doesn’t fancy another one. Her immune system is not good, one of the things which has been damaged by this infection, but she has to work, she has to do food shopping. She is having to risk things to try and keep the world running, to try and keep me safe. We have no idea what would happen if either my Mum or myself were to get Covid – 19. My Mum has asthma, and a weakened immune system, she is in the 50 – 65 age range (sorry Mum!). She would likely end up of CPAP or need ventilated, any more serious pressure on her brain could cause a huge amount of damage. Me, well type one diabetes could mean the infection would cause very high blood sugar levels, it could lead to ketoacidosis and then a coma. On the other side, managing those high sugars for a long period of time could cause damage to my liver  – the poor organ already has to do the job of my gallbladder! – I could end up needing a transplant. I have weak muscle tone – a diagnosis that has never really meant anything specific, but I know after having viral pneumonia that my diaphragm muscles and rib muscles can only take so much – I don’t know if they would be strong enough to keep me going.

We need to work together to get through this, people need to see each other and not just walk by, people need to presume less and think more. Is it really a victory if restaurants and bars can be open, if cinemas and theatres can open again and major films be released once more if it comes at a time where those who know the most inconvenience are yet again at a disadvantage? I’m sick and tired of missing out due to illnesses and conditions – I often get frustrated by this in various ways, but more than that I am sick and tired of missing out when others are not, when others can carry on with their lives. Up until now it was annoying, sure, but they were not to blame. Now those healthy people, they are to blame, they are a part of the problem, and it’s about time they saw it, thought about it, gained some compassion. It’s about time for them to step up and really see the rest of the world, we are just as valid as healthy people and we deserve the same happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

Thanks for reading everyone, I apologise that this was a bit rant-y but it needed to be said. I needed to let this out into the world and I hope some of you will understand whether you are in a similar boat or whether you can only empathise, thank you. I hope everyone reading is continuing to get through this mad world we live in, and as always I love hearing from you all, the good, the bad and the strangely specific – they are all welcome here! Speak to you soon 🙂

They Just Don’t Get It

Hi everyone, I hope this will share as I hope it does (although there is a chance that if it hasn’t shown as I expected it to then I might have just copy and pasted from the document I created so you probably wouldn’t have known there were multiple ways to see it if I hadn’t just told you… eh, oh well)

This is something I wrote this morning – I find more and more as I get older that I enjoy putting my thoughts and feelings into poems rather than just writing them out straight they way I was taught to do and which has helped for many years. It was written due to feeling a bit down recently and the way in which the frustration builds but it helps to write this sort of thing, it means I am in a better mind space to process it and then toss it out into somewhere I don’t have to think about it – the mental version of the garden shed or the garage. Anyway, I thought I would share it with you all because I think some of you might be able to relate to it and get something from it. Hope you enjoy giving it a read and I’d love your thoughts and comments, do you have a similar experience to this with your loved ones? Speak to you later everyone, 🙂

They Just Dont get it

Agents of SHIELD: An Autism Allegory?

This post is coming to you courtesy of my mad ADD brain which recently after three months (nearly four actually) of living in a Covid-19 affected world has begun to settle into its reality and give me 101 additional things that repeatedly flutter through my brain in terms of activities. I have tried telling said brain that I can only maybe deal with a maximum of twenty things in the day and some of those are eating and sleeping, but my brain doesn’t listen (or doesn’t care) and since it’s a bit of a coping method I think, I am trying to let it go and just go with things.

Due to this situation with my mentality and incapability to sit still (or on task, unless I hyperfocus on the task and lose three hours … the joys of ADD…) I was prompted to write this post, a post which actually began in a plan to email into a podcast I was listening to. I have recently picked back up the tv show Agents of SHIELD (I think it’s made by ABC but since the US tv networks are so different from UK ones I get a bit confused) I picked it up again because I had heard a lot of people saying it was getting better and because I know that the last series is currently on TV (my plan being that I will be able to catch up on the available 6 seasons via Amazon prime and by the time I get through that I might be lucky enough to be able to watch season 7 in its entirety). I also unexpectedly was reminded that I really find some of the characters compelling – I see so much of me and Holly in Fitz and Simmons, for those that know the show, although I think we are both a bit of a blending of the two.

The podcast I was listening to was covering the second half of the third season, I am up to the fifth in my watching so my memories of which episodes were what are a little confused now. The hosts were talking about the way in which the Inhuman race is treated in the TV Show and was talking about it as an allegory for race however the more they spoke the more I remembered the relations I had seen – to me the Inhumans storyline is a very interesting representation of Autism.

First of all, I want to do a very brief explanation of what an Inhuman is and what the show is talking about, unlike some of my other pop culture related things I think fewer people will be up to scratch with this story. So Agents of SHIELD is a tv spin-off from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – which are all the marvel films made by the marvel company. The TV show follows a bunch of officials (SHIELD) who are originally a section of the US government and work with the weird and unexplainable. If any of you are familiar with Doctor who, then I would say SHIELD is a bit of a mix between Torchwood and UNIT. Now, the Inhumans – these are a group of people who’s ancestors were genetically modified by aliens (I know, just stay with me) and who carry a specific genetic make up meaning when they come in contact with a specific substance, their genetics will be activated and the people will be altered from a base genetic level. The Inhumans always have a ‘gift’ which is a form of superhuman ability that results from this genetic change, this could be related to speed or strength, it can mean visions of the future or a desire to kill. It has its pros and cons and the reaction of the general people in this series are very familiar to what I have experienced in relation to autism.

There are so, so many connections I was seeing and so I will try and keep things relatively brief but I’m making no promises.

One of the first things that clicked for me was when there was a push towards finding a cure for Inhumans. There was the argument that for some Inhumans their gift or their treatment for being inhuman led them to commit suicide, it also could be devastatingly dangerous to every other person – such as a mother and daughter who got energy from absorbing the pain of others, cheery. A cure was something that some, a minority is maybe a stretch but I would say in general it was the minority, were desperate for, they wanted to return to normal life. The Inhuman amongst the main characters, Daisy, has good control of her power and embraces it as a part of her, as many other Inhumans also do. She expressed concern that if there was a cure created for the Inhuman people then it would eventually lead to becoming mandatory, that inhuman people would be cured regardless of whether they wanted to be or whether their gift could be used for good.

This straight away made me think of autism – particularly that there are those out there, many who are parents – who would cure their non-verbal children with extensive needs without a backwards glance. I know that it must be hard for the families of people with autism who may seem more closed off to the world and need a lot of care. I have never lived in their situation and I respect that, but I see their views of an autism cure the same way that Daisy sees a cure for Inhumans, once this was created it would eventually lead to all autistic people being forced into it.

In the same series a new leader of the team is appointed, he is an inhuman as it is decided that an inhuman leader is the best way to respect the inhuman people and make sure they are not subject to oppression. I was surprised by this as to me this seemed like a direct stab in the ribs at Autism Speaks, famous for its lack of autistic team members. However, this gets better when it comes out that this new leader is actually taking medication to appear Inhuman when they are not. This second part, the tricking people into believing you have a specific condition is a bit of a raw nerve I have encountered. For me, this is the opposite to what we see as autistic people where those who are famous, those who have accomplished amazing things will often have neurotypical people doubt their autism. It’s the idea that they shouldn’t do that if they are autistic, they shouldn’t be able to climb higher than neurotypical people and also need specific accommodations – it’s as though it just doesn’t compute that someone can have a disability but still have abilities beyond the average person. Disabled athletes get comments about them ‘cheating’ by using specific aids to do their sport regardless of the fact those aids often are the only way they can do that sport.

In the Show, this false Inhuman is a way to create mock inclusion and acceptance in a company – like how some companies will pride themselves in an incredibly wheelchair accessible building but will also refuse to change their lightbulbs to help neurodiverse colleagues concentrate.

The gifts given to the Inhumans, the lack of understanding and mistrust that surrounds them and the way in which their struggles are downplayed, even the awful groups who are ‘human-first’ and don’t believe that Inhuman’s should be given different things, additional things, that aren’t given to everyone – all of these are things that can relate to autism, to the world of an autistic person and what we experience day in, day out.

I don’t think that the show necessarily meant to make these connections, in fact, they might not even really know that there is a correlation to the lives of autistic people, and in a way that’s not a problem. In a way, I think that these accidental representations or representations which are deliberately vague can be just as powerful and important as those that are explicit because they can make people think. People will watch things like this and, apply what they have seen in their own lives, whether that is with ability, race, sexual identity or something else.

So these are just some of my thoughts on this, some of the things that came to my brain and I needed to put it all down in a post before my brain moved on to something else (which, in just over an hour, it has already begun to do). I would love to know if there are others who watch the show that saw these parallels, or if you watch it and have not seen them. It’s the cycle of art imitating life which then imitates art and so on.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you enjoyed this one and I wanted to give a heads up that I have made my people of colour resources page live and will link it here:

Resources: People of Colour

As always I look forward to hearing from you in any shape or fashion and I hope you are all doing well and getting through the crazy world we have been living in for the first half of the year, I will go and let my overactive brain move on to something else and speak to you soon 🙂

The Burns Still Hurt

So this post is another one of those things I’ve thought about for a while on and off at addressing and actually it was my reaction to something that happened to me recently which made me think about this more.

I think most aspies have been ‘burnt’ in the way I am going to talk about, I don’t mean the literal type of burn (although I am also pretty good at burning myself accidentally,  I think that’s got a lot more to do with dyspraxia though). The type of burns I want to talk about are those that are related to other people, to being used.

The idea of being used by someone I think is something we talk about less than we probably should. I don’t know if it is a social idea that it refers to big, bad, life-changing situations only, but I do know that being used is often only applied to criminal or romantic situations.  Being used by another person, in this instance, means someone who you believe cares about you and likes you is in fact just using their relationship with you as security or to get to something else.

I have had this happen twice in my life where it has had a significant impact. The first time I was younger and I don’t believe that this friendship began with me as a target. I used to play with two younger people near where I lived as a young child, the older I got the more and more they would take the opportunity to hurt me, they would steal from me and get me to ask for things from my parents to benefit them. I was too young to see the reality of that situation, I wasn’t able to understand the layers of bullying that were going on under the surface until we moved house when I was around twelve. Only once I was away from the situation did I really see the truth and I have had some interesting panic-related reactions to these people since then. I have developed a fear of these two people who are now far from my life, a fear I discovered after they started attending the same high school as me. It really surprised me to begin to see the effect they had actually had on my mentality.

This, however, was the lesser example of being used by others. The bigger example came as a realisation perhaps only three or four years ago, and it surprised not just me but my whole family who had been as blind as I had. We started to see the reality of a friend I have had since young childhood, a friend I believed was one of my closest friends until a break down in our friendship group over a couple of years changed, a story I had been told about our friends, about the way they really saw me and others in the remaining group of four. The story I had been told was that our larger friend group had been complaining about me and others behind our backs, a story that touched the deepest nerve in me which claimed they couldn’t stand the intensity of my special interests and the key phrase that I always ‘made the conversation about me.’

Other stories, a further splitting of our friendship group (this resulted in friend ‘P2’ denying that ‘princess manipulator’ had been intimidated and possibly abused by a boy in their year –  a story which appeared out of nowhere and resulted in ‘princess manipulation’ leaving school), stories about the way our amazingly inclusive musical theatre group had treated her, the jumping from job to job with a trail of bullying behind them and other things led us to realise that Princess Manipulation was the cause of it all. It was all her warping things, all her trying to prevent our other friends as getting more attention than her, she was jealous that some of our friend group preferred my company to hers, that the rest of her year perhaps liked P2 more than they liked her. There was false trauma, false self harm, the fact that Princess Manipulation was unable to do some things but able to do others which she benefited from.

Overall of course this was devastating to me, it hit hard and sickened me in so many ways. A person I had thought understood me, a person I had thought valued me as I was and as a friend only really valued me if I was under their control. That wasn’t the hardest thing though. The hardest thing which came from this situation was maybe two years ago. There is one mutual friend between us still, Miss Carefree, and Miss Carefree had been texting me, had organised to come to see me one day which I was looking forward to. On the day she was meant to be coming over she text me apologising that she had too much Uni work to do and that she hadn’t done as much as she needed to have done so wouldn’t be able to come.

I was disappointed, but I got it, Uni could be a lot and I knew she was a bit of a last-minute type person. The thing was that evening she was tagged in a Facebook post, Princess Manipulation’s post, they were having an evening together drinking and chatting at her house. Miss Carefree had lied to me, had put me off because she had someone else.

This brings me full circle to the thing which triggered me to want to write this post today. I do see Miss Carefree a little now and again, a few weeks back she came through to visit and go for a socially distanced walk together, and it was good we had fun, but then when last week I was trying to organise another date for her coming over she gave me dates she was busy and I have heard nothing since. I have seen posts online of her with other friends and perhaps these were dates she had already organised but she also hasn’t made any further attempt to speak to me. My Mum when I talked to her about some of this, commented that I am very suspicious of people, that I expect the worst and all I could say in response was ‘there’s a reason for that.’

I think autistic people are often seen as vulnerable, as easily led and quick to trust but I think that is because we inherently want to see the good in people, we want to see them at their best because we know what it is to be seen at your worst and stereotyped accordingly. We want to be accepted, loved and validated just as anyone else in the world does, we want to have connections, but the world can be cruel in return. I will trust someone, I will take them on their word and believe what they tell me until they give me a reason not to. I will carry on seeing the best in people and giving them the benefit of doubt occasionally. Every burn I have been given by others, whether it was large and has still not fully healed or whether it was a brief touch like hot oil spitting up, all of them stay with me, marks on me that only I can see, and these burns still hurt.

Like the literal type of burns, these exist as a reminder to be careful, that once burned by someone caution is always advised.

Thanks for reading everyone, do you have personal experiences of this? I presume many of us do but many of us aren’t healed and maybe never will heal from them. Regardless of whether you want to share your stories, I would love your comments, anything and everything is welcome as always. I hope you are doing ok and hope to hear from you all soon, speak to you later 🙂

My Real Ms. Peregrines’ Home

Hi guys, I want to start this post just saying that this is a very light-hearted post in some ways and acknowledge that this post may be lighter but that doesn’t in any way mean I am not aware of or thinking about the insanity that is the world at the moment. I am very aware of all of this. I have considered doing a blog post about Black Lives Matter but I am not going to do this, because I feel that if there is a story to be put across about being black and autistic then it’s the duty of people like me who are white to sit and listen, to lift up those voices and have them heard. As a result of this, I really want to encourage any of you below who are aware of POC autistic bloggers (or YouTubers, or authors, or anything else)  or if any of you have a presence somewhere and are POC to please share your links, or names or information below in the comments, or email me at the shiny new Aspiegirl blog email address here: Come say hello!

Once I get a reasonable selection of names and such (I will look myself also but I am currently dealing with a chunk of Uni work and living in an amount of pain due to a jaw issue which I might talk about someday but I’ll see) then I will either create a blog post sharing them or I will create a page for them and will link on a future blog post. Thanks, everyone for your support, I hope to keep learning and adapting my thinking as a white person and I hope you can help me to do that.

Now, on with the point of this post, the light-hearted content I promised.  I am going to have to start with a brief PSA: I have not read the Ms. Peregrines Home books nor have I seen the film but the premise of the series is something I really like and I want to read at some point. I simply picked the title because it seemed a good title for what I am going to talk about. End of PSA.

I wanted to talk today about my primary school, I have a feeling I might have talked about it quite a while back in some of my very early posts but I don’t really remember and even if I have I wanted to talk about again in what I hope is a more consistent writing style… My Primary school experience was over two schools, the first primary school I attended was one I was only in for a month or two. My family noticed a massive change in me once I started primary school, not just adjustment but I wasn’t as happy in a lot of ways. I could already read before I started school so my family didn’t feel that it was related to work either, they didn’t know what was going on and given my parents had got the advice that I wouldn’t handle a mainstream school this might have been one of the points in the change of school. Only when I was in Primary Four, after being in my second primary school for a number of years, did my family learn the reality of it all, but that’s not the story for now.

The primary school I moved to was very small, I went from a primary class of average size (twenty-thirty pupils I presume) to a school where I was the nineteenth pupil. I was not the nineteenth pupil in my class, no, I was the nineteenth in the entire school. The school was relatively close by, but it was much smaller and the old building had only two classrooms, big and bright ones with big windows and lots of colour. The junior classroom was primary years 1-3 and the ‘Big’ class was primary 4-7. A lot of things changed over the time I was at this school, it did grow quite a lot and when I left we had three classrooms, as well as a number of other things.

The class I joined in Primary one was taught by the headteacher – she was both the head and a classroom teacher, and she would teach me for four years, I will refer to her as Mrs. Dunwell, for reasons I won’t explain but that’s her. I was a new experience for the school as the autistic kid, but I was far from a novelty. In the first one or two years of primary school here, (I remember this but not well) once a week on a Thursday a class of four of five children used to come to visit us for the afternoon from the nearest special needs school. We used to sing songs and play playground games with these kids and their support teachers – one of the memories I have which are so clear I see them as like a video clip in my head, was a day near Easter when one of the girls in the class who used a wheelchair was pushed around with a basket of little chocolate eggs and had a large red button which she pressed to say ‘please take one’.

This shows me how Mrs. Dunwell saw teaching, she was hugely into inclusivity when  – the early 2000’s  –  the idea of ‘mixing’ children with additional needs in with their peer group wasn’t common and it certainly wasn’t common in this situation where it was not an additional support base as part of the primary school but a specific additional support school. From this time in my life I remember a lot of things, I remember afternoons where the day ended sitting in the reading corner with our teacher reading us a book. The books she read to us were not ones which we could have read ourselves, but they were the sort of books that were written for our age. We read Charlotte’s Web, we read Heidi and, when I moved into the ‘Big class’ we were read Children of the Oregon trail, a book non of us had ever heard of but one Mrs. Dunwell knew and loved. She also had other stories, stories from her own life which were eye-opening and often had morals to them which we didn’t really understand at the time and now look back on.

This teacher inspired us to learn, learning wasn’t all about tests and levels, we did a lot of learning about the world around us with a huge amount of enthusiasm. It wasn’t unheard of on a nice summer day (rare in Scotland) Mrs. Dunwell would drop everything and our small 1-3 class of maybe twelve children along with the help of the classroom assistant I will call Mrs. Tables, would go off up the hills behind the school for a walk. This would never be allowed now due to rules and regulations but it was brilliant. It allowed us to see education wasn’t all from a book, it was a way to practice some of the songs and poems we had learned, or ask questions about our environment, to see natural changes. Without fail every year the whole school would take part in a larger walk, often sponsored, that took advantage of the amazing place we lived.

We had a school garden that had flowers planted yes but it also had a small greenhouse and some fruit trees. Every autumn the school got engaged in making apple crumble, each age group doing different parts of the process, every January we had Scottish poems learned to celebrate Robert Burns and over the winter months, our PE classes were always focused on Scottish country dance. We had school performances usually twice a year, we had science days and maths days, we had visitors from the community and in turn, we visited them. For many years we even went carol singing as a school sometime in December, despite being out of the school day most kids came along with their parents to take part in a tradition long gone in a lot of other places.

The more of this post I write the more I realize I could keep writing for weeks about my memories of the school and the things we did but I’m going to curb those thoughts. I want to explain why this school experience made me the person I am.  The way I was taught by Mrs. Dunwell, the way I was supported on and off from Mrs. Tables and also the teacher I would have from primary four to seven  – who hasn’t come up mostly because I have focused on my early primary years – Mrs. Beans, is the reason I am at University. I strongly believe that the words said back when I was diagnosed with autism, the idea that I wouldn’t ever be able to cope in a mainstream school might have been my reality if I hadn’t gone to a school which understood me, or that when they didn’t understand me learned. I was able to learn at my own level, I was placed in a reading group with some others in my class who had dyslexia because my hyperlexia helped them with the sounds and words while their better understanding of emotions helped me to see the point to the story being told.

I was never excluded from anything. There were some things based around helping me to understand them, things such as using animals in maths problems which wasn’t in any way a detriment to the other children but a large help for me. I always knew I had differences from the other kids, I knew that they did things differently from me but when I learned to skip with a rope after practicing daily for weeks at home, everyone at school was delighted to hear it. When I read Swallows and Amazons age six years old I got a certificate even though the teachers weren’t in any way surprised. When I was around eight my Mum came across a beautiful blue and purple kilt which I was in love with as I had always wanted to go to a school where they wore kilts (we had a private school near us which had tartan as a big part of their uniform). My Mum had phoned my teacher on a Sunday evening apologizing that there wasn’t any way she would get me to school the following day without wearing this kilt, but that she would work on getting me back into a school uniform over time.

Mrs. Dunwell’s reaction to this was that I should be allowed to wear the kilt as part of my school uniform, it did match the school colours and it was a tiny change for the school overall versus being a significant one for me. Not only did I continue to wear my kilt to school from then on but Mrs. Dunwell adopted the tartan for the school, taking a scarf of the same tartan colours to a six-nation rugby game later that year in case she was seen on the tv.

Because my primary school saw me as a person because they recognized that small changes in their daily lives could have a very big impact on me and because they embraced my autism as an asset and never a curse I was able to grow and learn and love life in ways I may never have done otherwise.  I thank them so much for those years, and I will never forget them.

Do any of you have experiences of people or places which accepted you as you are and how did they help you? As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and feelings. I hope that all my readers who have stuck around over the rocky past six months of blog writing are doing well, and the same to any new readers. I hope this more happy post helps keep spirits up. Again please let me know of any POC voices I can be sharing at this time, the email is always open and waiting. I hope to speak to you all again soon, thanks for reading. 🙂

 

The Little Things Can Leave a Big Impact

This post is the first one in a while which has been a bit more ‘normal’ for me. This one isn’t in reference to the Covid-19 situation, this one is more like what I usually write for you all and I think I am writing it with a bit of personal push. What I mean by that is I am aware that over the past few months my desire to do most things has disintegrated, I am struggling to motivate myself at all and this is very hard and very frustrating so I want to start trying to give myself a little bit of a push. I want to try to start giving myself some small unofficial goals, some things that I usually enjoy and have no problem with completing. One of these things I want to try and get back into completing regularly is going to be the blog, I’ve had a few ideas come up for me recently and I’m seeing that they pass me by without being written and that’s why this piece came about the way it did.

So, this post idea came to me while shaving my legs. Bit random, but I’ll explain. I don’t often shave my legs, I don’t want to force myself into the social norm, I keep up with underarm shaving religiously because of social norms and I don’t feel legs should be as big a deal. I tend to only shave my legs during the summer months and only really up to just beyond my knees as above that they are rarely on show (and as a result of thirteen years of injections and cannula placement in my thighs the hair on them is very light and sporadic). The thing that caught my attention and made me think was that I sit on the bathroom floor on a towel with a basin of soapy water to shave my legs. I will do them in the shower occasionally but I find it very difficult to do. Even in my modified fashion, I came away with several small cuts, and that isn’t unusual.

So from that, a survey emerged, a survey which I sent out to private Facebook groups with a large number of neurodiverse people, and making the survey helped to give me a little push to actually write the corresponding blog post.  (I haven’t even let myself read all of the responses prior to starting to write this because I felt that would mean I might back out quicker..) The Survey was about all the little things that are affected by neurodiversities, things like adapted leg-shaving or washing, list-making or having several alarms a day to remind us to do things. I wanted to see how many of us have little things which probably use more effort and energy to get through the day than the average typical person. I know that I often don’t think about the little things, I don’t acknowledge the difference in energy output so here is our recognition of those things.

First I wanted to get an idea of the neurodiversities of the people who answered the survey, mostly so I could point out what these applied to and that other neurodiversities may have other experiences. Of the surveyed people none had a significant mental health condition such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or OCD and none had an acquired condition as a result of an injury. 50% of the people involved had ASD,  28% had dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyslexia, dyspraxia or dysphonia and 21% had ADD or ADHD. I’m going to try my best not to make this sound just like a report but I apologise if it comes across like that, but there was a lot of data and so that might be difficult.

So the next section I looked at was more about the what and the how of these small things that influence our lives. I was surprised when I asked about the areas of life which are affected that all seven of the answer options had at least four people who experienced issues in that area. All, yup, all, of the responses said that Allocating focus was an issue they had.  My description of allocating focus was those things that need to be done and perhaps get overlooked as well as hyper-focusing on specific tasks or activities more than others would say we should, I was surprised to see that this was a part of all neurodiversities, regardless of the type.  The second biggest issue that people seemed to have come with leaving the house, whether that was remembering to secure the house, remembering to bring the right things or leaving in enough time. Other areas were cleaning and organising, grooming and hygiene, eating and drinking and personal safety and security. I asked if people had modified daily living tasks in order to help them achieve these things, 28% hadn’t modified things but the rest had and reading the comments on how they had modified things was interesting, both in terms of things I do also and things I hadn’t thought of. People said that they write lists or set reminders on their phones to complete tasks. Someone mentioned having a bag that is always pre-packed with the essentials for leaving the house, this is something I suppose I do to an extent as I have one handbag that goes everywhere I take a bag because I have my EpiPens and purse in it. During term time I have most things in my Uni bag, and I always take my bus pass out my purse before I leave the house to go for the bus, I tell myself this is because I don’t want to have to juggle everything when I get to the bus stop but I suppose I also do this in order to make sure I have it. I do use alarms on my phone but the more I get used to our amazon echo the more I am sure that once I live alone I will be getting one since it is so easy to add reminders since you don’t have to sit down and input them, you can simply tell her.

Another thing that I saw in this, which actually was in a later question too, is that a lot of people have priorities, they have learned that some things need to be dropped now and again and I am so glad that people are doing that because I get it. I know that I can be a little hard on myself at times but at the same time I know for me personally keeping on top of specific things and not letting them slip makes it easier to keep going. After my bedroom had the makeover from hell last summer I have been a lot better at keeping on top of tidying. I’ve found it more stressful seeing things come back into my room which haven’t been in it for almost a year because I’ve really had my eyes opened to how much a tidy room helps me feel motivated and happy. I need to keep on top of the tidiness because if I let it slip it will only get worse, however, things like tooth brushing or drinking enough water in a day, I let those things slip if I need to. I asked everyone if they thought their neurodiversities affected how they think about daily living tasks, most agreed that they did and others explained why. A couple of the comments stood out to me, one which mentioned that when at school they had often been told they couldn’t do things as a result of their neurodiversities, the decision being made for them but having the opposite experience now as a parent. This was interesting because I’ve also experienced both, my parents were always told I wouldn’t cope with a mainstream school environment and I have got to University, sitting at a very good level in my grades despite the fact I am pretty sure I put in double the effort others in my class do in order to break even. That doesn’t just mean in terms of it taking me a lot longer to read and comprehend set readings for classes but also the experiences I can have on busses, the issues that come with blood sugar control, issues with distraction and knowing I need more sleep than most people my age to function. I don’t always get the support I could use, I don’t always ask for it, sometimes I make things harder for myself due to liking neatness and order in my notes. It’s an odd balance.

The other comment that stood out to me relates a lot to the other questions that I asked in the survey so I want to use it as a nice segway (even though I probably ruined the segway by telling you it was a segway). This comment was that they often find it frustrating when neurotypicals don’t get it. Only 7% of the people surveyed said they don’t feel pressure to complete daily living tasks, 21% said they felt that pressure from the general population, 28% felt they put that pressure on themselves but the majority, 42% felt the pressure to maintain daily living through friends and family. Furthermore, 64% of people had said they found their issues in daily living to be both upsetting and frustrating at times, 64% also said that they sometimes get annoyed with the way their neurodiversities affect their daily living, none said that they are never annoyed by this.  I also related to all of this, feeling frustrated by how hard I find some of the tasks. The few times that my parents have gone on holiday (three times so far I think) without me for more than a weekend I have found it eye-opening how a handful of added tasks to my day affects me, things such as having to make food three times a day, taking the dog out for a walk at least twice a day but also remembering to let her out to the toilet, remembering to lock doors and listen for the doorbell. Only one of these three times was I actively completing uni work and attending classes at the same time, and I ended up having to have a large day of tidying before my parents got home. I found every night I was later going to bed because I simply hadn’t got through everything on my mind and I knew I wouldn’t sleep unless I did.

I also got myself thinking when I asked about where they felt pressure to keep up with these tasks. I realised that I fell into two categories and I suppose they are an example of nature versus nurture debate. You see for me I would say most of my pressure is on myself, but there is some from my family too and I suppose the older I have got the more I see that the part of me which puts pressure on myself is inherited (genetically or learnt? Half and half? whichever) I don’t allow myself to make excuses for myself, which doesn’t mean I overwork myself (I mean, I do, but not always). I like to keep up with what I can, I see that for me the best way to live is to keep on routine, if I let myself get into the habit of not showering often enough then I am more likely to keep going with that, and I am more likely to see my mental health and motivation suffer. The same with tidying, with hair brushing and with Uni work. This doesn’t by any means prevent me from letting these things slip, of course, they do and they do often, but life experience and my personal pressures mean I frequently get back on that horse. (I find a lot of irony in this statement because the phrase explains most of my life to a ‘T’ but despite having ridden for many years on and off and weekly from age 6 to 15 I have never actually fallen off a horse…)

My last question and I am very proud of you if you’ve made it this far in one sitting cause this has turned into a long one somehow, was if people saw any positives with their neurodiversities and daily living. I did receive no’s and yes’s but I liked that some commented specifics. People mentioned that their ability to hyperfocus can be a positive (I totally agree with this, particularly when it means I can cope with staying up till 3am to finish a task and still function the next day on the high of finishing the task) they also said that they think it makes them more self-aware, more able to see what truly matters in life and what they should and should not push to do. I think that is a thing I have seen a lot in neurodiverse people, the ability to see the joys in life both the simple things that others overlook and to see the way that so many people are stuck in the machine of society. We are better at seeing our struggles, better at seeing some things don’t matter as much as the neurotypical population wants them to. We might spend a lot more time on things that others don’t find important but sometimes that means as much as the little things can be our detriment, us neurodiverse people are better at seeing them and maybe enjoying them.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope this was an interesting post for you all and that you got something from it, I hope you are all getting through the madness that is happening in the world at the moment. I want to do a special shout out to Black readers, I want to say that I, as a white person, of course, can’t truly understand the experiences you have in life but that I sympathise as much as I can and I am behind you. Enough is enough, the societal racism that is still so strong in some of this world NEEDs to end, thoughts, prayers and power to you all. Hold tight everyone, no matter which fight you are going through at the moment the world keeps turning and time will keep going, we will get through this. As always please feel free to comment your thoughts on this post as well as ask any questions or vent anything you need to vent, speak to you all soon 🙂

Email me

 

I Take it Back, I Take it All Back!

Hi everyone,

You probably get a bit fed up of me apologizing for not posting as much as I want to be, and so I’ll try and keep it short. I guess a lot of the reasons this post is so long after the last one is part of what I plan to talk about in this post – the current situation.

It’s the reason for this title, I think a lot of us think about how good it would be to not have to go certain places, a lot of us probably have thought that it would be great if we could do our work or education from home, a lot of us have thought it might be nice to get a week or two to just be at home? Well all of that, that is what I take back.

Currently (as of 26th April 2020) I have been at home for forty-five days. I am lucky that in the UK we are allowed to leave our homes once per day for exercise. I am also lucky that the town I live in is fairly rural and so it’s possible for me to go out and walk my dog while still maintaining social distancing.  I know this is something I should be incredibly grateful to be able to do, but it is still not my normal and so it still sucks. It is frustrating not being able to go away from my town with the dog, it is frustrating that the places I walk the dog have become more limited since more people are going out than normal (ironic isn’t it, the people you would never see going for a walk are suddenly walking every day).

I thought it was great that I was able to continue working from home, and in a lot of ways I am still very glad I have been able to keep up with it but a few days ago I had an email from the university and I think that was the last straw for me.

I often think I surprise myself in a crisis, I cope a lot better than I expect I will at times. I haven’t had any major meltdowns or too much of an emotional crisis so far but the decision made by my Uni on Friday has massively lowered my mood. Over the past two days, I have struggled to feel positive, I have struggled to motivate myself to do anything at all. Part of this probably is as a result of being here for so long now, a result of not being able to live my life much at all, but like I said the email from Uni brought it all to the fore.

So what was this email? The email explained that all Pupils in first, second or third year of their degree is going to be given a ‘safety net’ meaning that they will automatically progress to next year regardless of whether they submit their assignments. This makes a lot of sense if it weren’t for:

1/ The fact that we have had these assignments ongoing for several weeks already, all deadlines are on the 8th of May, so still a further two weeks to go

2/ There are no discrepancies, if you are a singly mum at home with three young children who has to entertain children, or if you are working as a key worker and have to go in regardless, you should be the most entitled to this help, of course you should. These circumstances however also apply to those who are at home all day and should have been working on these assessments for several weeks already.

3/ Many classmates have already expressed that they don’t plan to attempt to put their work in on time, or even complete it at all. Simply because they don’t have to.

4/ We have also been told that if we claim mitigating circumstances (as is needed for all of this) a process that has been reduced to a click of a button, then we can submit these pieces of coursework at some stage over the summer and still receive a grade.

It is this last point that gets at me the most. I have been working for this, I have been keeping up with work and attending classes as is expected, I have also been dealing with mental health, with ASD, with ADD. I have also been managing my diabetes which has gone wild due to all the changes, and I have been in constant pain for at least two weeks due to a wisdom tooth which is trying to break through parallel to an existing molar.

(This tooth would normally be getting removed but it’s, of course, a non-essential surgery and so I don’t want to have to risk getting it done currently unless infection sets in, but God knows how long it will be before I can actually get rid of the pain to my mouth/jaw/head/back of my neck. ) 

I have been working with all of this stuff, normally things that wouldn’t bother me, that I would consider fine and that I wouldn’t actually submit mitigating circumstances for. I am well within a chance of handing in all my work on time. Yet there are many who will submit in another two months, having had twice the time given for the assignments to be done, and still be in with a high chance of getting a good grade.

I am not against people getting the extra time if they need it, nor am I against the safety net given to those who are in impossible situations. What I am against, and what has made my mood drop off a cliff, is that there are people in my classes (I would even say the majority of them) who are not making any effort to do the work, who are not making much effort to attend online classes, who will submit an assignment in July, having had more time than was allowed to most of us and get an A or B grade.

To me it’s another example of ASD people suffering because we follow the rules, because we work hard – harder often than others – and because we need to grip on with white knuckles to every last scrap of normality.

I think that’s something that people aren’t really understanding in the current situation, I did originally laugh at some of the memes out there about ASD and social anxiety such as these ones:

Leonardo Dicaprio Cheers Meme - Imgflip

 

But I think now I’m really seeing that actually as much as we are often better at being alone, at being home and occupying ourselves, we also need other things. We need those choices that we can’t make, we need that little bit more than our world is letting us have. I normally walk the dog and enjoy doing that but I am shoved into a smaller space, I can’t go out on the bus to different places to walk her, I can’t go and meet friends with or without the dog to go for walks. Holly and I often go out just to go out, with no obvious plans until we get there and see what mood we are in, but that can’t happen.

I can’t see my nieces Big M and Little M, both who are getting used to seeing us on video calls but I feel that it’s like letting someone smell a bar of chocolate right in front of them and not touch it. I miss their hugs and their laughter and the amount of life that exists in little kids. I miss seeing Holly like anything, and the more time goes on the more I feel the holiday we have booked for the first week of June will be cancelled, not even moved back, but cancelled.

I think we just have to do what we can at the moment, I think we have to admit that things really suck. We have to understand that things are going to be different for a while and we need to do what is right for ourselves, personally, to get through it. We can get through the other side, some European countries are beginning to slowly lift lockdown, bit by bit, and some are only a few weeks ahead of the UK in terms of beginning lockdown. There’s a chance we will begin to get out in the coming months, something that I am desperate for but also wary of due to my medical stuff.

When that starts we also have to be kind to ourselves, we have to allow time to re-learn things. There’s a good chance that a lot of us will find public places, which used to be no problem, overwhelming.  There’s a chance we will get socially tired a lot faster from simple things from the old world. I even find the sun too bright (and that’s with my specific coloured lenses) when I go out to walk the dog because I am spending less time in direct daylight.

It’s going to be a long haul, it’s going to take time and its going to continue to suck, but we need to keep going, keep getting through each day as it comes and trying to see the good in things around us. We can do this, we will.

Keep safe everyone, again I am sorry that my posting has been rubbish recently and I hope they will be more often and more interesting again in the future. Always, but maybe more important now than ever, please feel free to leave a comment below, tell me what sucks in your world, or tell me what is good, tell me something totally unrelated that you learned this week. Keep talking, keep well and keep safe.

Speak again soon, 🙂

Self – Expression and Feeling able to do it

Hi everyone, so I am on to the seventh day of not leaving my home due to social isolation measures. I am a high-risk member of society and so I am stuck in my own town at the very least for the foreseeable future. I am lucky in that I live in a place where walking the dog means I will have contact with minimal people and so I can at least get outside. I’m also lucky to have my Parents here in that they can help with all the stresses and are able to go out in order to get the things we need.

I thought about this post when I started to realise my mood is lifting a little. At the beginning of the isolation period and I would say even up until yesterday I felt really fed up and annoyed by the life I have at the moment but I think I am starting to accept it more and through that, I’m starting to find my footing again.

I am starting to think about things I would like to do, I am going to try and work on things I find interesting which normally I might not find as easy to do. I am going to try and order online some knitting supplies so I can start new projects, I am going to do more artwork and more writing and research. I spoke in the last post I did about how I am thinking of creating a sort of mini-series about the history of ASD and ASD in history (I think these are two different things, ASD has not been recognised for long enough for its history to be overly exciting but ASD has existed in other ways before we had a word for it).

All of this got me thinking and this is what made this post appear in my brain. I want to talk about expression, how we can express things in ways other than spoken word and how in times like we are in at the moment being able to express ourselves is important for mental well-being. I know a lot of Aspies can find it hard to find the words for what we are thinking and feeling, and I know sometimes we can be so confused by our feelings that we don’t even know where to start looking for the words we need.

I was around ten or eleven when I had the hardest period of time for this, I started suffering from anxiety in a way that was more than just the average child. I had gone through a lot with my Mum had been in the hospital for three months, then being diagnosed with type one diabetes plus the structure of my primary school meant that I was preparing for some of my friends to go off to High School. I insisted on going out to play with two younger girls on my street, I couldn’t see that the meltdowns which came up when I played with them were because they were really bullying in the subtle, vindictive way that some girls do. There was a lot.

I don’t remember when I started seeing my first Psychologist, we will call her H, but I remember the sessions I had with her in vague detail. She was the first person to give me some of the tools I have to express my emotions now. We did a lot of Art therapy, which is something I don’t think a lot of people know much about and as I got older we did more and more writing. I have had diaries for my emotions and fears at various points in my life, usually only for a few months or so and then I stop using them when my mental health becomes better. I never mean to stop using them, I think the ADHD part of my brain is probably part of why, but I think that’s a good thing for me  – it means the world is feeling better at that time.

I still use writing to help me blurt out my feelings onto paper when I really need to. Sometimes I create lists or make mindmaps, sometimes I just scrawl out pages and pages in a sort of letter to myself. In many ways, this blog means that I can write and talk about emotions, but it’s also a way for me to connect with others and maybe being here will switch on a lightbulb in your minds and help you do something new. I also use art, less often now, but I find that art is often a way that I can deal with things, positive and negative, which are ongoing. It’s a little like positive self – talk at times, it reminds me that I often worry about something and creating artwork around that worry (or why I shouldn’t actually worry about it) can help to solidify the information. I think it’s a little like re-writing notes to study for exams, you are helping to scan it into your mind.

These are far from the only ways in which you can express your thoughts though, I know music is important for a lot of people, some write poems, some probably cook or bake or make models of things. I think, like a lot of things, we are often put off doing something expressive because of how it might look to others – for eg., I like to sing when I am really happy, I also feel a constant need to move and can end up running around in the house for no reason. Of course, for a lot of us, Stimming is a big one too, and I feel for a very long time I suppressed all forms of stimming but in the last year when very excited, I have started to hand flap. I am trying to embrace this and see it as a good thing. It is a good thing, we know that but that, unfortunately, doesn’t stop the rest of the world from taking issue with it.

I’m lucky, most of the ways I express myself and my thoughts are on paper, they are drawn or written and my friends and family are so used to seeing me with a notebook or sketchbook in my hands that they wouldn’t think to question if I was using it as a way of expressing myself. I also notice that when I try to express my emotions aloud that my family and often other adults can see it as something I am worried about. This isn’t always the case, sometimes I just need to log things in my head by stating them at other people. I bet that a lot of you with Echolalia will get this experience too – or worse, someone getting annoyed that you repeated what they just said.

I’m also lucky because I know what works for me, I know what will help me settle my thoughts and get them out. Sometimes they are drawn or written, sometimes I need to just go for a walk and let them tumble about in my head for a bit until the cycle stops spinning. Sometimes I need to be annoyed and angry, shout at people about things that are actually irrelevant to the issue, I know it’s not a good method but hey, we are all only human. I know that there are probably some of you out there who don’t know how to express these things yet, or you have tried but you don’t know where to start, so I’ve added some information at the end here that might help you. I think in isolation we will need ways to express thoughts and feelings but also the bonus of being at home means we have time for the positive forms of expression – those things that just feel good to do, that make you happy. More than anything at the moment we need laughter, happiness and will power to keep carrying on.

Writing to Express yourself

Self Expression ideas

Art Therapy Ideas

Thanks for reading everyone, hope this was somewhat helpful for some of you out there and if there’s anything you want to talk about in the current situation my ears are open (through using my eyes to read your comments, but you know what I mean) I hope to hear your thoughts on what you do to express things, good bad or other. See you all soon.

When Everyone is Right Equals to Everyone Being Wrong

Hi everyone. first of all, I was slightly horrified to discover that my last post was longer ago than I thought … oops, but I am trying to be kind to myself at the moment and trying not to worry too much about getting things done if they don’t need to be done but I am hoping to get back on an at least one post a month schedule once again, sometimes I find that the only reason I haven’t written a post is that I haven’t found anything specific that I want to write about, or that I find something I want to write about but currently I don’t have the time to do as much research on it as I would like to (I am hoping to be able to bring out my inner historian a little and do a series of blog posts on bits of autism history, I’m not sure exactly when this would happen or how many posts it would cover but I would love to hear if people would be interested in this – don’t worry it won’t just be boring dates and names!)

So this post is one I’d like to say I didn’t see coming a month ago, but in reality, this post is one I didn’t see coming at the beginning of the week. Since the Outbreak of the Coronavirus in December, now using the scientific name of Covid19, most people in the UK have been feeling that the media is seriously attempting to scare everyone and that there is a lot of fearmongering going on. However, in the past twenty-four hours, a lot of areas around us in the UK have started taking serious action. Italy is closed, Denmark is closed (I keep feeling the need to Quote Tony Stark from Avengers: Infinity war ‘Earth is closed today.’) They are struggling to contain the virus in Italy and the effects are beginning to take hold in Germany. Ireland, which has had less confirmed cases of the outbreak than England, or Scotland I believe, has closed all schools and Universities to create minimal contact between people that is not absolutely necessary.

I am currently sitting at home writing this, knowing that I had to get this post out of my brain before I felt able to start doing the Uni work I need to get on with. This is something that my ASD/ADD brain has got used to over the years and is one of the things I know I need to allow for, if things are on my mind I need to find a way to deal with them or at the very least to put them aside until I’m in a better position to deal with them. Thing is, I don’t know how to put the thoughts around this pandemic out of my head because there is a huge amount of conflicting information out there at the moment.

So yesterday Scotland was told that all of our schools and Universities were to remain open at the time being. We were also told that any event with more than 500 people were going to be cancelled. To me, this was a really contradicting sentence, because I know that many schools and possibly many more Universities have over 500 people in them. I think about the High School I attended, which averages around 1,800 pupils – and then staff on top of that number  – and I remember that the corridors were literally nose to tail a lot of the time if you had to stop in a corridor well, good luck to you, you would get trampled. If the virus was to go into that school it would spread incredibly fast.

People are being told that they should work from home if they can. maintain the best hygiene they can and try to avoid close social contact, particularly those with a lesser immune system. This very sentence though seems to depend on who is saying it, there is an issue with wanting the UK to carry on as normal as well as trying to kill the virus through isolation. That is not going to work, it needs to be one or the other.

Today, I have a University lecture, but given the lecture is carried out on a video conferencing system as there are many disconnected campuses for our University, I half – asked, half – told the head of History that I was not coming into the University since I would be taking public transport to get there and through that increasing my risk of exposure to the virus. This seemed a bit stupid to me given that all of my classes are delivered via video conference anyway so I could join the class from home. Luckily my lecturer had no problem with this, and even if she had I believe that due to my autoimmune diseases I would be able to fight for staying at home. Overall there isn’t a huge reason for my education to change and I wouldn’t really have a different experience through not going in person.

This decision was made for this one lecture at present, I don’t have another one until Wednesday and so I’ll be able to see what the best option is from that point onwards but given there is information saying the virus is going to increase and hit its peak in three to four weeks time in the UK, I don’t think it will be too long and they will have to close the University or do all lessons via VC.

But here is the biggest issue, the issue that all of us who are trying to find out the true facts of the virus (and I imagine quite a few ASD folk are) have come up against. No one seems to know anything. No one knows anything for sure and so everyone is deciding to create their own beliefs, people are passing the bucket – one organisation telling you to follow the guidelines of another. In one piece of information from WHO (World Health Organization) I read that those over 60 AND those with autoimmune or immune compromising conditions are equally at risk from the virus, yet another UK based Diabetes charity is saying that people with well-controlled diabetes are at no greater risk than any other adult. Furthering on from that BBC News last night had an interview with a man who has type one diabetes and who has had the virus seemed to be trying as hard as possible to make the virus seems nothing to worry about despite the fact this was what seemed to be a very fit adult man, and that they quickly mentioned he had to get an ambulance to hospital but because he was discharged the same day they brushed over it as no big deal.

I may be biased but having grown up with Diabetes from age 10, having 13 years experience, I know that we are pretty damn good at caring for ourselves in a crisis – that we endure many things at home that others would panic over or be in a hospital with. We are used to waking every hour or two to check blood sugars, ketone levels, give injections or to eat or drink something sugary. We are pretty good at living off liquid sugar when we can’t eat and going unconscious is something that the families of many diabetics are used to seeing and dealing with, getting no medical help.

I feel like my brain is constantly swimming with different facts and figures, experiences and official instructions that it has become like a chess game, one step back and forward all the time, only this chess game has at least four armies trying to get their information across. I think it can come across that I am very worried about the virus, sometimes I am worried, but most of my worrying is not about the actual risk of illness but about the contradictions that everyone is putting out into the public, meaning no one can say for sure what to do.

Some people believe that the media is blowing everything out of proportion and there is no need to worry, quoting facts about the number of people who die each year from conditions like the flu. I agree this is something we need to be aware of but I also feel the need to point out that those illnesses are usually ones we have a treatment plan for, and some like the flu are ones which we can help prevent by getting the flu vaccine. This is new, this is unknown and showing some odd features such as not affecting children under eight years old (some even now think that children might actually act as a vector for the disease, not being affected as such but carrying the virus to others). On the other hand (When I write sentences that begin with things like ‘on the other hand’ I realise how much my life is influenced by academic essays…), there are other countries which are taking much more drastic action than the UK and who have had less cases (like Ireland which I mentioned before) which leads people to think the UK is not putting in what it should until the very last minute because it is aware of the massive consequences which will come from these. Here, for those not in the UK, we are heading into exam season, in Scotland, the National four and five Exams – the first significant exams we take and the ones we can’t leave high school without taking –  should be beginning in six weeks time. If schools have to close, if exams can’t go ahead due to the number of people in one room, this could have a big effect on the coming year. Those who have applied to Universities, aiming to start in September may not be able to complete the exams they need in order to get accepted. Of course, there are going to be a lot of other big influences  (as much as it is totally trivial, others who understand the intensity of special interests will understand that I have been excited for almost a year for the Black Widow movie – due to be released on the 1st of May, if Disney doesn’t decide to push the release back and/or UK cinemas get closed, then there will be a very upset and frustrated me sitting at home avoiding the internet at all costs because I know it isn’t likely to be safe to go to a crowded cinema to see the film at release), I don’t know of everything that will be influenced.

What I do know is that I am living in a constant state of adrenaline and that it is far more to do with the unknown than it is the virus itself. I am trying to remove everything coming up in the near future from my mind, trying to think no more than a day or two in advance and struggling hugely with the mess that the internet is handing out as advice. This is incredibly difficult, it’s hard for everyone, everyone is confused and concerned but I feel this might be the perfect Aspie paradox.

On one hand, we are being asked to socially isolate, but on the other, that isolation comes with almost no ability to plan our lives.

History students (and probably other humanities ones but I don’t know much about them) will probably remember the Malthusian Catastrophe theory. The idea of Thomas Malthus in 1798 that once the population of people grows beyond a certain level there will always be a disaster; a plague, famine or war, which will massively decrease the population. He believed this was how the world would remain in balance. Most of us enjoy casually talking about his belief and show a little bit of interest in the times his theory seems to have worked   – the black death, the first world war and the following flu pandemic, the numerous genocides and deaths at the hands of Stalin and Hitler, – but we never expected to see it being applied in our lifetime.

So, all the aspies and auties out there who are finding times a little difficult at the moment, try to be kind to yourselves. Take your mind off the situation around us if you can, maybe remove yourself from the internet or news sources around you or limit the time each day that you allow yourself to read the news. Keep your mind on the positive things, do things that you enjoy and if you need to take time for your mental well – being then do so.

Thanks, everyone for reading, I hope that things stay reasonably safe and secure in your lives and that by the summer we, like Wuhan where the Virus began, will be kissing goodbye to this outbreak and enjoying our lives without any further concerns. As always please feel free to comment, let me know how things are for you all, even if you just need a space to rant to those who understand.  How is it all being handled where you live? And also let me know your thoughts on a series looking at the history of autism, where I can tell you a bit about fairies, hospitals, genius minds and other stuff. Thanks again everyone, your support here is still so amazing to me.