Interview With a Pokemon Master Aged 7 3/4

The Boy granted me an interview in return for some Jaffa cakes. What can I say? He’s cheap. So without further a do.. here it is. Enjoy! 🙂

Question: What do you like to do the most?

Answer: You know! Playing Pokemon Moon! Duh!

Question: What is your favourite food?

Answer:. Chocolate digestives. You know that! *tuts*

Question: Who is your favourite person in ALL the world?

Answer: Mum, you know that too. It’s you. *theatrically rolls eyeballs*

Question: Universe?

Answer: Still you.

Question: What is your favourite TV show?

Answer: Pokemon Sun & Moon series.

Question: What’s your favourite book?

Answer: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Double Down cos at the first page Greg says “Hope you creeps are enjoying yourselves”. It’s really funny. *laughs hysterically*

Question:. What do you want to be when you’re older?

Answer: *throws his hands up in the air* Pokemon Master, of course!

Question: What things don’t you like?

*deep intake of breath* Vegetables cus they make my mind go pop, spotty bread, brown chips, black sausages, nuts, lime, black lollipops and Pokemon killing me.

Question: What do you like to wear?

Answer: Pokemon trainer clothes.

Mummy: Which are?

The Boy: Er, shorts and a top with no sleeves, backpack, cap and LOTS of Pokeballs.

Question: Mummy or Pokemon?

*looks shifty* Pokemon. Sorry Mum.

Question: What’s your favourite colour?

Answer: Yellow. YOU KNOW THAT!!

Question: Favourite animal?

Answer: Chicken? Don’t really have one so I’ll say chicken.

Mummy: What about owls?

The Boy: OOH YESSSS, OWLS! *starts hooting*

Question: What’s your favourite place?

Answer: Home. Ya gotta love home. *American accent*

Question: What is your greatest talent?

Answer: Singing and making Mummy laugh.

Question: What do you wish for?

Answer: To be a professional Pokemon trainer.

Question: What makes you nervous?

The Boy: “Shall I tell you what makes me nervous?”

Me: “Please do”

The Boy: “People cutting my hair”.

Question: What makes you smile?

Answer: When Mummy smiles (and my Pokemon)

Question: What age do you want to be?

Answer: Seven. Because I am seven. Actually, I want to be twelve so I can look cool because most people start their Pokemon journey at 11 years old?

*Mummy’s face goes screen-saver*

So there you have it, folks. As you can see, there is a Pokemon obsession going on and I intend to repeat the interrogation interview every year to see how his likes and dislikes change. Crafty, huh?

Many thanks to The Boy for being a TOTALLY AWESOME Pokemon Master and most magnificent interviewee.

Spectrum Sunday

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

The Boy, The Playground and Me

I’ve never been one for playgrounds..

Too crowded. Too noisy. A sensory nightmare.

The squeak of bare legs being forced down a hot metal slide on a summer’s day still makes me shudder as if there’s a hairy-arsed tarantula about to pounce on my face..

When The Boy was younger he hated playgrounds with passion. The first time we put him on a swing he like TOTALLY screamed the place down. Sure, children having tantrums are common place in parks but I’m talking TOTALLY LOSING HIS SHIT meltdowns where people stare at you because it MUST be down to bad parenting, no?

Er, no.

Playgrounds are a danger area for us because of the stimulus. Even now (aged seven) ten minutes is all he can handle before he starts to go into meltdown. Although the stimulus affects him, he likes the playground now. He is a sociable child but the problem is that he is too sociable and doesn’t understand the rules as is the case with autism. It doesn’t matter how young or old the other children are because they are all equal in his eyes and this causes problems..

For instance, on one occasion The Boy ran up to five teenage boys who were hogging the roundabout. He jumped on there with them as if he’d known them all his life. I hesitated to see how they would react to this little interloper but The Boy’s idea of play involves lots of incoherent shouting so it wasn’t long before the teens started nudging each other and laughing, the twats, though to be fair, they were just acting the way that most teenage boys act, it’s just that I’d have given anything for just one of them to show my son some compassion..

The Boy laughed back but had no idea that they were laughing at him. This took place in a matter of seconds but I’d seen enough but as I made my way to him the teens got up and just left him spinning on his own, not that it bothered him. As usual, he was oblivious as to what had taken place..

The thing is that he stands out.

His autism is IN YOUR FACE, autism.

We let him go into playgrounds whenever possible as long as he’s not showing signs of overwhelm before he goes in. We know that he’ll get over-excited pretty quickly so he’s given a ten minute countdown and those minutes seem like hours, believe me. All this on top of my own sensory issues makes it a stressful experience..

The last time he went into a playground was a few months ago. It was the adventure type playground and he homed in on a big rope type roundabout that could take about ten children at a time. My heart sank because I knew what was coming. I have a fluffy sensory toy which I keep in my pocket to calm myself and I stroked it so fast, I practically rendered it bald!

The Boy scrambled on with no qualms whatsoever. Aside my anxiety, I had to marvel at his inability to be apprehensive in certain situations. So, there was a little girl stood next to him and he shouted away to her. He was totally animated but she just stared at him open-mouthed and then asked to be let off. Once again, my son had been rejected only it was me who felt the pain, not him.

OH and I exchanged ‘the look’.

When we’d entered the playground, it was noisy with children screaming and parents chatting. It literally took five minutes for the atmosphere to change. One by one the kids on the roundabout fell silent as they stared at the little boy who excitedly screamed out incoherent babble to nobody in particular..

Then the parents stared at him and started looking around to see who he belonged to.

Er, that’ll be us, folks.

We knew he wasn’t going to make ten minutes as he was seconds away from meltdown and I wasn’t far behind having one of my own, so we grabbed him and left.

I didn’t look behind me because I didn’t want to see the judgmental looks on the faces of people who haven’t got a clue about our lives or his. I’ve seen those looks too many times and each time it hurts. I physically and emotionally hurt for my son..

So, I slammed the gate shut and pulled him close, mentally effing at the lot of them for not seeing my beautiful boy as I see him.

The blessing is that he is unaware of the way people stare. I was aware from the age of five so I’m glad he’s been spared for as long as he has but the day will come when he does notice and being different and knowing you’re different is hard. You’re forever having to work at appearing ‘normal’ and I pray that my son remains oblivious of people’s intolerance and ignorance for as long as is possible.

Those five minutes in the playground are still bothering me, obviously because I’m writing about it months later. It’s in my head now, logged with all the other ‘incidents’ and it makes me sad that some people show more compassion for their cars than they do human beings, especially vulnerable ones who could really do with their support..

Here’s a thought..

How about people stop staring and start supporting these kids?

Why shouldn’t my son express himself in the way that is natural to him? He’s not hurting anybody. It’s not an aggressive reaction. What people see is happiness minus the filters. To me, it’s beautiful. He is beautiful. It isn’t him that needs to change, it’s society.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”~ Steve Maraboli ~ Life, the Truth and Being Free

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

 

Spectrum Sunday

 

The Lion, the Witch and my Wardrobe

When you’re an adult, a wardrobe is just a piece of furniture. It’s somewhere to hang your clothes and store boxes of old photographs from when you were young and energetic, not to mention packing a full set of hormones. To a child, however, it’s a porthole into another world especially if they’ve read (or seen) The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe..

The plot, of course, is that four children are evacuated from London in World War Two and sent to live with a professor who lives in a large country house with big wardrobes. The youngest child, Lucy, has a root round the Prof’s house and finds a wardrobe which also happens to be a portal to a magical land called Narnia. Having pushed past all the moth-balled infused fur coats, she wanders out into a forest where there is a lamppost. Here she meets a dodgy looking bloke who invites her to his house for tea (always say no, kids) but it turns out that this bloke, Tumnus, intends to betray her to Narnia’s resident evil overlord known as ‘the White Witch’. The White Witch has ruled over Narnia for, like, ever, keeping it in a permanent state of Winter. This is to keep the Narnians in their place though it may be due to a bad case of hayfever she had once, who knows? Anyhoo, old frosty chops has an intense dislike for humans so the Narnians are under orders that, should they happen across one of the blighters, they are to turn them in or she’ll start removing fingers/claws/whatever. Tumnus is well up for a bit o’ betrayal in the beginning but changes his mind when he realises he likes Lucy. Oops! Now he feels proper shit that he wanted to hand her over to the Refrigerated One so he does the decent thing and takes her back to the lamppost which is where it all goes tits up. You know how it goes…

When I was about 8 years old, Mum and Dad bought a wardrobe for my room, well, actually it was a combi-robe which was a combined unit of a mirror, shelves, drawers and a single wardrobe. However, to me, it was more than a piece of furniture..

I liked to sit in my wardrobe.

There, I’ve said it.

Thing is, I used to feel safe in there, especially if it had been a bad day at school.

It was a confined space, even for me, who was of Borrower proportions, but I could sit in my little wardrobe, close the door, and cry it all out without anybody knowing..

I was also familiar with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by then, having read the book and seen it on TV so I would re-enact it because my imaginative play was always about acting out what I’d seen in life or on TV.

The concept of a magical world being accessible from inside my wardrobe fascinated me. What would I have given for it to be true? Only, in my magical world, evil witches wouldn’t be allowed because there was one of those at school masquerading as my class teacher..

A few years later we moved house and two things stopped me throwing the MOTHER of all meltdowns. One was Dad buying me the new Adam and the Ants LP and the other was the walk in wardrobe in my new bedroom. Never mind sit down, I could go horizontal in this one! WOOHOO! The wardrobe also had pretty brass knobs on which I liked to mess with.. which did not please my mother.

“Have you been messing with these ruddy knobs again, Madam?”

“Er, no” and I’d leg it downstairs as fast as my fluffy slippers could carry me.

One of my favourite wardrobes, EVER, was my Nan and Grandad’s because it was JUST like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and yes I did shut myself in it until the whiff of moth balls put me into a coma, Not sure about Narnia but I did find a nice clasp handbag filled with various corn plasters and a few furry Polo mints..

It was easier to re-enact the story in an 1800s Gloucestershire house than in my 1960s built bedroom. More authentic, y’know? Well, as authentic as it can be until your mum walks in and bollocks you for ‘rooting’ through your Nan’s things..

I’m not sure how old I was when I finally stopped sitting (not a typo) in wardrobes. No doubt marriage and motherhood left me with little time to indulge my love of wardrobe interiors. Also, they were jammed full of cricket paraphernalia, old shoes and other such crap that builds up when one has to share their abode.

Then there was that incident where one of the kids mistook their wardrobe for the toilet. *shudders*

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Narnia existed though, eh? Without the resident bitch, of course.

How fabulous would be to have a really shit day and declare, ‘SOD IT. I AM OFF TO NARNIA!’ Though knowing my luck (and tendency for catastrophic thinking) I would most likely step out into the forest and be instantly mauled to death by a psychotic beaver..

Maybe I’m too old for sitting in wardrobes but I will never be too old to revisit Narnia via the book..

See you there?

“I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.”

C. S Lewis ~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Creative Commons Image Via Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard and Jaco: A Life With Autism

I watched BBC One’s Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism last night.

As a parent, I am able to identify with Welsh actor Richard Mylan’s fears for his son’s future.

As an autistic person, I understand Jaco’s world.

My son will be eight this year but does not have the ability to mask his autism as I have been able to do. Like Jaco, his autism is obvious. He wandered in while I was watching it and saw Jaco wearing his headphones. He said “Look mummy, that little boy looks like me!”

Richard impressed me with his desire to understand his son’s world even though it’s impossible for people to truly understand what they don’t experience themselves. However, Jaco is a lucky little boy to have Richard as a dad and the love he has for his son is a beautiful thing to see.

You get a view of what life can be like with an autistic child like Jaco. He reminds me so much of my own little boy, as in,visibly uncomfortable with environmental stimuli but happy in his world.

In order for him to learn more about Jaco’s future, Richard went to meet various people on the spectrum. First he met Alex Lowry who is a motivational speaker and trainer on autism. An animated man, he is obviously passionate about what he does.

Although Jaco started secondary school and was happy, Richard was interested in finding out about special schools. In one such school he met two teenagers who had been tasked with the job of showing him around. One boy told of the bullying he’d endured in mainstream school culminating in a broken arm and the other told of being ‘kicked out’ of school for being ‘naughty’. Both struggled in mainstream but both spoke highly of the special place where they are understood and most importantly, happy.

Then there was Edward who is severely autistic and in residential care. He is a young man who is happy in his own world and who has a great support network. He, like every other autistic person, does not know what ‘normal’ feels like. All we know is our normal. Ed has an amazing memory and can tell you what day your birthday was on when you were born in a matter of seconds. He is a fascinating person.

Ed’s mother by her own admission has taken a leap of faith in allowing him to live independently but said, “You have to let your kids go don’t you? You have to let them grow up and be independent”.

Bottom line is yes, we do.

The person who struck me the most was the young man who Richard visited in his workplace. This man was literally living his dream of doing admin. Yes, admin! The job that so many people loathe. Yet, he was happier than a pig in muck sorting through all the letters and stuff. What’s more, he is a valued member of the team and according to his boss, contributes to the happy and relaxed atmosphere of the office. What choked me up was when he said to Richard, “If I didn’t have autism, I wouldn’t be as special.”

Richard said “So you see it as a positive thing?”

With eyes that twinkled (and bloody good eye contact thank you very much) the young man replied, “Yes. autism is a very special thing and whoever has it should be proud of it”.

I am proud of who I am and I want my son to be proud of who he is too.

The Boy and I have the same problems but we react very differently. I am an autistic person raising an autistic child and I know how important these next few years will be for him. I can’t sit back and do nothing because he will be a teenager before I know it. I have to prepare my son for a life without me and I have to do it now. I can’t guarantee that his secondary school experience will be as positive as his primary one but I will be watching closely and if he’s unhappy, I will have NO problem in placing him in a special school, especially after seeing how happy those lads were.

My passion comes not only from being his mum but also my years of suffering in mainstream. I know, without a doubt, that I would have been happy in a special school tailored to my needs. With the confusion and crowds removed, I would have thrived instead of having just about survived. However, my time has long since gone. It’s my son’s time now..

I want him to have a relationship. To be able, not only to work, but to be appreciated for his contribution to society. Ultimately, I want him to be able to live independently of us. Don’t get me wrong, I dread the day coming when he no longer needs me but that’s also the day I’m aiming for. It’s what every parent aims for. Sadly, some people are too severely affected for total independence to be an option.

More than anything else in this world, I want him to be happy and to embrace his differences, not hide them as I have done.

We, as parents, do the best we can for our children. We give them the tools they need to survive and they take what they’ve learned out into the world. With autism, the work starts earlier. It has to. Richard Mylan knows that. I know that. Most autism parents will understand that. Another thing that unites us all is the fear of not being here for our special children so we do the very best we can while we are still around.

Thanks to Richard and Jaco for a glimpse into your lives and for helping to spread awareness.

Richard and Jaco: A Life With Autism is on BBC iplayer for one more week. Well worth a watch, folks.

Spectrum Sunday

Shutting Down

Sometimes I need to shutdown.

I just stop functioning.

Even if I want to speak, the words won’t come.

Not even yes or no.

I am aware of you talking but I can’t answer.

Like a form of paralysis

I have no words to reassure you.

A storm is raging within me

My inner fight.

I’ll get through it.

As all storms pass

There may have been a trigger

A memory, thought or word.

Stuff builds up.

Things you’d never imagine would matter.

Trivial to you.

Astronomic to me.

Leave me to unravel my thoughts and I’ll come back

But for now I have to withdraw.

Like a computer that’s frozen

I need to shut down and restart.

I can’t process these thoughts..

They whirl inside my head.

Building momentum.

Overthinking.

Catastrophizing.

Big fuck off mountains out of molehills.

Thoughts you wouldn’t want..

So when I leave without explanation, let me go.

To sleep.

To escape.

In order for my mind to unravel itself.

I’m not doing it to hurt you.

Nor am I being intentionally rude.

It’s just that it’s necessary.

Survival mode.

My brain is wired differently..

Incompatible with this world.

Too much information

Sensory overload.

So I’m asking you to understand as best you can..

The reason why this happens

That it’s not you.

It’s me.

Spectrum Sunday

 

Ageing With Autism

Did you know that over 700,000 people in the UK are autistic and most of them are adults? Much has been written about children and autism but there is very little information about ageing..

Most autistic people have additional problems such as depression, anxiety, sleep issues or learning difficulties and on top of all this comes the ageing process – which can be shit at the best of times.

Being diagnosed at 46, I understand myself as the child that I was and the adult that I am now but what next?

What will happen to me when I’m old?

A positive thing about diagnosis is that it’s given me permission to be myself. Pretending to fit in is exhausting but I have confidence to be me so I no longer have to work quite so hard at existing.

*does air-punch*

However, the way my mind works is that I dwell on the past and overthink the future. The future causes me concern because I fear being put in an old peoples home where I would be forced to be social. I’m not saying that every autistic person will feel like I do as we’re all different but as far as I’m concerned, it would be hell.

I’m not completely averse to being social but it has to be on my terms and I reckon I’d die pretty flipping quickly if my need for solitude was not respected or understood.

Also..

I don’t want to sit on a plastic chair and watch shit TV programmes.

I don’t want to play bingo.

I don’t want to eat my food with everybody else.

I don’t want to go on day trips to the fucking seaside where I’ll be asked if I need a piss every five minutes.

No ta.

I’m sort of hoping I’ll vacate this planet via my own home but you don’t always get what you want do you?

I get that oldie homes work for many people. The social thing probably keeps them alive longer but not me. I’d be bagged, tagged and laid out on the mortuary slab within a week!

As I age, I will most likely need more medical intervention. I mean, I’m creaking like an old barn door now so it’s a given. One problem with this is I struggle with verbal instruction, not because I’m slow, but because my brain can’t process more than one verbal instruction at a time so when medical professionals start reeling off instructions at one million miles an hour because they are SUPER busy, my brain goes screen saver and I just remember the first part or nothing at all. I need them to understand this about me and either slow up or write it down and when I request this of them I don’t want to be considered an awkward git.

One example of this is when I recently went for a Dexa scan. The radiographer fired out about four verbal instructions in one go. My brain went blank and I froze so he got up from his chair and physically moved my legs into position. He didn’t ask if he could move my legs for me and I resent that. I felt stupid. In the past I have been called stupid when I haven’t responded to verbal instruction. Now I understand why I struggle. I’m NOT stupid but people ARE ignorant.

I want healthcare professionals to understand that unfamiliarity makes me incredibly anxious which exacerbates my sensory issues, like pain threshold. I’m not being pathetic or difficult. I’d like them to treat me as they would a member of their family. That applies to everybody, regardless of autism, because we ALL matter. Would that radiographer have been as abrupt with his own mother? I don’t think so!

Although I’ve known I’m autistic for the past four years, I wasn’t able to say it. Had I have had the diagnosis it when I had that scan, I would have been able to explain about the verbal instruction (or OH would) and I wouldn’t have been made to feel like a tit.

The first children diagnosed as autistic are now middle-aged and I think it’s very important that we research how the autistic person changes physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially as they age. Most people need help in old age so it stands to reason that autistic people will require more support and understanding of their individual needs. I still fear old age but not quite as badly as before I was diagnosed..

The fear I have about not being here for The Boy is one I have the most trouble with. How will he cope without me? That thought physically hurts me but my job is to make sure that he can survive on his own. We’re on a path, him and I. He’s growing up and I’m growing old. I may still be 16 in my head but my body is convinced it’s 109. However, while I still have breath in my rapidly ageing body, I will do ALL I can to support my son. The day he no longer needs me will be a heart stopper but that’s what I’m aiming for. Not for my heart to actually stop cus I’d be dead like, but for him to be independent.

That’s what any parent aims for.

Some autistic people never achieve independence and that must be so hard for parents to deal with but I can only tell our story and independence is a possibility given the right support.

I’ve managed to survive for almost 47 years without support. However, it’s been hard and I don’t want him to struggle as I have. Once he’s living his life independently, I’ll embrace codgerdom in all it’s glory until Death points his bony finger my way and says in his best Sean Bean accent “Come on lass, let’s go ‘ome”.

And off I’ll go.

Thanks for reading.

Image Credit

Spectrum Sunday

 

Autism, Empathy and Me

 It’s a myth that autistic people don’t feel empathy.

Some autistic people may appear to lack empathy but it’s generally the case that they feel it but don’t know how to respond appropriately.

Some autistic people, like myself, have too much empathy..

I am hypersensitive to everything in life. Just as my senses work overtime so does my empathy.

My first recollection of being this way starts at school where children (including me) were singled out because they were different..

In primary school there was this boy..

I vividly remember the smell of him and the threadbare clothes he wore for days at a time. Having sensory issues I was acutely aware of the unwashed odour but never moved myself away from as other children did. They made a game of pushing each other into him and running off shouting that they’d got some disease because they’d touched his clothes.

Gets you right here doesn’t it? *taps heart*

I hated the other kids for that.

I hated myself for not making them stop.

More than anything I felt compassion and that overrode the sensory stuff.

It’s a different kind of sadness now. Back then I was a child who didn’t understand poverty. We were by no means well off but we had everything we needed and our basic needs were met. I’m a mother now who understands that, for whatever reason, his needs weren’t met. I never knew his story or how he came to be neglected like that. Maybe his mother was struggling to cope? Or ill? Maybe he didn’t have a mum? Whatever the reason it wasn’t his fault because he was just a boy.

I still think of him and always will and even though he’s grown up like me, he will always be that little boy.

A couple of years later we moved and I started my new school in the last year of juniors. The bullying, which had been sporadic until then, stepped up a few gears and would remain the case until I left school five years later.

So there was this girl..

The first day I saw her she was sitting alone in the hall eating her dinner. I didn’t give any thought as to why she was sitting on her own while everybody else was in groups. I just remember the stomach churning stench of cabbage and the sight of her with her bright red hair sat alone on a big table..

She saw me standing there, tray in hand, not knowing where to put myself and motioned for me to sit beside her. So I did and was grateful to her for being the ONE person in the room to welcome me.

The other kids made fun of her hair, among other things. I’ve never understood this about red hair because I think it’s beautiful. Jane Asher? Gorgeous!

This girl came from a big family and her clothes were nearly always too large for her. They were obviously hand-me-downs. She got picked on for that too. Where I’d come from it was the norm to wear your siblings cast-offs. I’d certainly never witnessed such snobbery before but it was clear that what was written on a pair of trainers mattered a great deal to some of my class ‘mates’.

The children dehumanised her. The abuse was constant and her defence was to cry or laugh back as if it was all some big joke. Some joke! They were arseholes to her and I wanted to make them to stop but didn’t know how. On the outside I was expressionless and motionless but inside I was imploding. This would stay with me all day affecting my mood. At home I would be difficult without understanding why. I know now that things stay with me long after the event.

There was almost a sense of relief when they turned their attention from her to me because it was easier to bear my own pain than hers. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have rearranged it all in my head and stood up for her.

In my head, I stood up for myself EVERY time.

So when I hear about teenage kids ‘snapping’ and going a bit psychobilly at school, I have sympathy for them because they have nearly always had to endure years of bullying which is abuse. It doesn’t excuse it but explains it. I snapped and punched a girl who’d been bullying me but that was after enduring four years of daily abuse. I’m not a violent person but we’re ALL capable of violence when the right buttons have been pushed and that applies to EVERY human being on this planet. Piss the Dalai Lama off enough and he’d probably right hook you too!

The problem with my autism is that I feel too much and that’s both good and bad. Good because I can experience things and feel euphorically happy. Bad because I soak up negative energies and pain. I have so many memories and thoughts that I wish I didn’t have..

I am still haunted by the Jamie Bulger story and often lie awake thinking of the 15 year old boy who went to the 1989 semi cup final football match in Hillsborough and died in the arms of a policewoman, his last word being “Mum”.

I can’t watch horror films and struggle to watch scenes of violence. When my anxiety is at its worst such scenes will trigger panic attacks. I can cope with scenes of bullying if there is an element of humour to them, as in, the bullies are made to look foolish. However, bullies are made, not born. To understand a bully you have to know their life and more often than not there will be something (or someone) that changed them. Painful memories may cloud my empathy towards certain people but it’s still there at default level. Yeah, they were bastards who hit me but who hit them?

The Boy is also highly empathetic. He couldn’t watch the BBC 2 Venus flytrap indent that was running last year. He covered his ears and looked away EVERY time.

The Boy has empathy by the bucket load and is autistic. Like everything else in his world, it’s amplified. Colours are BRIGHTER. Sounds are LOUDER and he feels emotions with such INTENSITY that it physically HURTS him. However, he struggles to react appropriately and so people misjudge him..

So many things about autism are misunderstood and empathy is one of the big ones.

I’m here to help my sensitive child understand the world which is a hard task seeing as I struggle myself but I can teach him what he needs to survive and hopefully thrive. Maternal instinct makes you do things you wouldn’t normally dream of. I just wish I could have done something to lessen the pain of those two children at school. Their pain, hopefully long gone, will always be mine.

The problem with empathy is not being able to let go of something, even when it’s a memory.

“for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”

Milan Kundera ~ The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Spectrum Sunday

Late Autistic Diagnosis.

A lot of people suspect they are autistic but don’t know whether to go for the formal diagnosis or not. Many are happy to remain undiagnosed whereas others, like me, need validation.

Am I Really Autistic?

Chances are you know you’re autistic.

I knew as soon as my son was assessed four years ago..

I went home and read as many female Asperger books as I could and then did the full tears/snot thing because within those pages were women JUST LIKE ME!

My oddities take up four pieces of A4 paper but the bottom line for me was the feeling that has plagued me ALL my life and that’s the feeling of not belonging to this planet. We’re not on the same wavelength, the planet and me. More so, I don’t understand most of it’s human inhabitants..

The Benefits of Diagnosis

  • It can help you and your family understand why you’re a weird sod.
  • You may get access to benefits and support services.
  • Your employer, should you choose to disclose, has to make reasonable adjustments.
  • You can grow old and not worry about being forced to play bingo in Shady Pines oldies home.
  • You can be part of a community that understands YOU.

How To Go About Getting A Diagnosis

The first step is to speak to your GP.

This didn’t happen with me because, well, I’m awkward.

I’d already made up my mind to go and see my GP to ask for a referral when my anxiety worsened considerably and getting myself better took priority over everything else. However, in July I ended up at A&E with a panic attack. The doctor (an angel in human form) suggested I saw the hospital psychiatrist who spoke to me for about an hour and the result was that she referred me for an autism assessment. It wasn’t the usual route to assessment but for me it was a case of right place, right time.

So, go see your GP.

  • Only talk about the autism, not the boil on your bum.
  • Take in some notes if it helps you.
  • Tell them why you think you are autistic.
  • Explain why a diagnosis would benefit you.
  • Give brief examples of your struggles.
  • Allow the mask to fall because this is one occasion where it’s beneficial to be yourself.

Do your homework before you go in and find out about your local services. Maybe phone up the National Autistic Society helpline and speak to an advisor or if, like me, you are a phone-phobe, you can ask somebody to do it on your behalf?

Some GPs don’t know autism from their armpit but don’t let that put you off. Go in there armed with your info and Guidance For GPs  and bamboozle them with your knowledge. Don’t be fobbed off and if necessary see another GP.

When I had my assessment my anxiety was MASSIVE which was explained to the psychologist. Anxiety amplifies the communication and sensory issues and when I went back for the diagnosis I could barely speak and my eye contact was abysmal. I had to remind myself to look in the psychologist’s direction every now and then. Hopefully when I go back for my follow up appointment the anxiety will have subsided enough for me to engage and get something out of the session other than staring at the carpet..

You have to decide what benefits there are to being diagnosed and if that’s really what you want because once you have been officially diagnosed there’s no going back.

Since being diagnosed I feel as if a weight has been lifted off me. All those years of trying to find an explanation for my issues is at an end. For however long I have left I can be me knowing that I’m not as alone as I thought I was..

I am relieved to understand why I’m the way I am. I struggle and always will do but there are positive aspects to my autism, like how I experience the arts. I don’t just hear music, I feel it. I don’t just read a book, I become the character and those feelings stay with me long after the music has ended or I’ve turned/swiped the last page. There are two extremes to me with no in-between but then if there was an in-between, I probably wouldn’t be autistic.

I’m not fussed about terminology. I refer to myself as ‘autistic’ rather than having autism but it doesn’t really matter as either is a massive improvement on ‘weird fucker’ or other such things I’ve been called in my time. The important thing for me is that people understand autism itself.

It’s a human thing to want to belong and be accepted. In a perfect world all differences would not only be accepted but embraced. We’re a long way from that but with awareness things are getting better. Diagnosis isn’t right for everyone and it’s something that requires a LOT of thought so don’t rush into it.

Take as much time as you need.

I took four years.

Finally..

Don’t let age stop you from going for a diagnosis. If a codger like me can get diagnosed at 46, anyone can. In fact, people in their 60s and 70s are being diagnosed.

It’s NEVER too late.

Thank you for reading.

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It’s Your Party And I’ll Die If I Want To

It was 1981.

It was the year of MTV music channel, Charles and Diana and Bucks Fizz.

It was also the year that we moved house. So for me, it was shit.

I was struggling before we moved and being in a strange house and having to start a new school where I knew NOBODY made matters one hundred times worse. One of the memories that stands out is having to stand in the middle of the classroom while the entire class were forced to introduce themselves to me one by one. This was the idea of my new class teacher, a frizzy haired man beast who quite frankly was a sadist. I stared at my trainers and turned a non-flattering shade of crimson..

I just wanted the ground to swallow me up.

Or for the fire bell to go off.

Neither happened because God apparently hates me.

Now, at school when it came to girls, there were Weirdos, Normals and Bitches. Weirdo’s sometimes mixed with Normals but NEVER with Bitches. Bitches would mix with Normals if there was anything in it for them, like copying homework.

One of the Normals invited me to her party. She lived just across from us. I didn’t want to go but Mum felt that I needed to make some friends so she practically frogmarched me across to the girl’s house.

The party was in the garage. Yep, I wondered about that too but in hindsight when faced with a load of pre-teen girls cart-wheeling perilously close to your Wedgwood collection you kind of see the brains behind the plan.

My heart sank when I saw some Bitches had also been invited. They were all wearing satin trousers because that was the fashion of the year. The girl who’s party it was, was also wearing satin trousers. In contrast Mum had picked out for me (her TOMBOY daughter) a hideous skirt teamed with yellow top and cardi combo. I felt about as comfortable as fly in it’s final death throes after being Nippon’d!

ALL the girls had long hair. There was a sameness about them. Like sheep. No originality, you know? I envied their hair though because Mum had yet to allow me to grow mine. My hair was short (ish) with one side that permanently stuck out.

It’s not that I wanted to look like they did because I don’t do fashion. I just wanted to wear what I felt comfortable in which were my brother’s tops and a pair of old jeans but Gestapo trained Mum was having none of my ‘crap’.

So skirt and cardigan it was.

The girl’s mum tried to get me to join in with dancing and stuff but I just stared at her vacantly while my brain short-circuited so she gave up sodded off back inside, no doubt to wonder what her daughter was doing inviting such a misfit to her party.

I was the life and soul that day. Not.

I couldn’t dance (not that I can anyway)

I couldn’t eat.

I don’t think I actually moved the entire time I was there.

I didn’t drink in order to avoid having to ask where the loo was.

I couldn’t even enjoy the music.. mainly because it was naff party type music, therefore shite.

So it wasn’t the best experience of my life..

Needless to say the Bitches threw some hostile looks my way whilst having a giggle over my clothes.

I secretly hoped one (or all) would choke to death on a sausage roll.

The thought that’s haunted me all these years is why I didn’t just go home? I could see my house. It was literally yards away from where I was standing. I could see my mum having a fag in the back garden. She was enjoying the sunshine oblivious to the fact that her daughter was in some kind of satin infused HELL.

All I had to do was propel myself forwards but I couldn’t move..

Thing is, I was brought up to be polite and by the age of 11 my manners were instilled and I think that’s why I couldn’t just walk off. Excusing myself would involve having to speak and I was struggling to breathe, let alone speak, so I just stood there like an idiot. When the first parent turned up, the girl’s mum took pity on me and told me I could go if I liked..

If I liked?

I was through that garage door quicker than a greyhound out of a trap!

Back to my home.

Back to my sanctuary.

To most little girls a party is the thing of dreams. A chance to dress up and be pretty. To me, it was something to endure. AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE!

Mum never knew the real me. Sadly, she died not knowing. She saw extreme shyness, a loner and a girl who was never fully present but had no idea of what was really happening because I struggled to verbalise it. I was one of MANY girls from my generation who were misunderstood and suffered as a consequence. Maybe that’s you too?

46 years later, I know who I am and I’m proud of little me for hanging in there that day and not puking all over the garage floor. GO ME!

As for the Bitches..

“SEE YOU IN THE AFTERLIFE, GALS!”

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