While eating Nutella with a spoon out of the jar (it was delicious), and trying to work out which point in history I would like to live in (I decided it would have to be around 1800s as then words such as mirth, lollop, chimerical and galoot existed and could be used more often then today- though sadly no existence of kerfuffle yet!) I realised I haven’t blogged since the first few weeks I started… so here is an attempt to correct that!
What I was supposed to be doing though instead of eating chocolate with a spoon was filling out job applications. With only a couple of months to go until my final university deadlines and graduation looming I have to start thinking about the future. I really cannot imagine the future after university, its a bit like in my head that life will just end and then there is just nothingness. Its a very strange feeling. Though also quite exciting as anything really could happen!
In trying to fill out forms for various things I ended up having to fill out those sections that ask about disabilities and to disclose what difficulties I might find. It is very negative and I tend to avoid it as much as possible thinking that as soon as anything I will be ruled out regardless of what quotas and anti discrimination is in place. Really what they need is also an extra bit which asks you to list what your ‘disability’ has also helped you with or how it makes you stand out and be you (In understand in every case this might not work but an option for some people would help!).
To be fair being able to list that I had my own email account to correspond with NASA aged 5 as nobody except them could answer my questions about their latest missions, the fact I know several evenings worth of facts about carrots and apples (my housemates can vouch for this) and that I can quote a list of films word for word might not help me get a job! But, saying that being Autistic has stopped me seeing life in a square package and that I feel very few limitations might. For me life is very shapeless in that I don’t seem to see many of the barriers that everyone else does, or if I do they appear quite arbitrary. Normally if someone says ‘you can’t’ then I instantly want to prove them wrong.
In saying I would not be able to leave home, I spent a year in Uganda without electricity and running water with a family who didn’t speak English (I survived), in saying that I wouldn’t manage university life I not only joined one in the UK but then spent the second year experiencing the newness again (to be fair they are better at understanding Autism in Canada). It seems to be that very quickly professionals, future employers and peers want to be able to say if you have a label here is the long list of things you cannot do, so don’t bother to try. However, what they should be able to say is you see the world differently and everything is differently structured why don’t you push the Neurotype boundaries and see what life looks like.
There are of course difficulties but I don’t think that this should be the full stop- after all judging someone instantly limits their ability and shrinks their potential. I like the idea that anything can happen and that if you want something enough there is a way to make it work with hard work, research and being able to focus on it.
Well having ranted and finally blogged- I should go hide the Nutella before I eat anymore and make sure I meet those job deadlines!
So this week I had planned to blog about why special interests are positive and actually do provide an access to the real world at times but life has got in the way in personification of a migraine.
I have always pretty much suffered from migraines, being first hospitalised with one at the age of three as it was suspected meningitis, as I’ve got older I’ve been better at keeping them under control by avoiding triggers and heeding warning signs, unfortunately this one went undetected or rather ignored.
At the moment I’m waiting for exam results, have assignments due, ate a square of dark chocolate at the weekend thinking it was milk chocolate and managed to get stuck in a crowd of people. As a result walking to uni one morning I had lights flashing across my eyes, then I felt faint and then the pain began. There are several stages to a migraine:
1) the victim must create a new habitat for themselves. This must be a place of retreat from the world with its noise, lights and smells ( I think having a migraine makes some of its victims become like an animal in their senses in that they’re all heightened tenfold). The victim must then make for themselves a cocoon in this habitat which should resemble a dark yet cosy cave- with materials that are fluffy and cotton which hurt less.
2) the victim must prepare that they will not venture out this cocoon for around 3 days and do not seek to see anything else living except pets during this time. The need for food is absent except dry toast can occasionally be tolerated.
3)the victim can make short trips armed with sunglasses and earphones into the world again slowly building up resistance.
4) the victim will then spend the following week being tired, extremely clumsy and feel unreal but will slowly adapt to the world once more.
I’m currently going through the forth stage and so my ability to blog about special interests will be incoherent so I’ll catch up with it at the weekend!
Having read ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ aged about ten, I got a chance to go and see the play based on the novel this week along with some friends. The show was completely amazing (though a bit of a trigger for those on the spectrum).
While the plot is in itself an interesting take on ability and disability its link to autism directly is controversial with the author having claimed that he did not hugely research this spectrum before hand and never used this word to describe his character. Researchers since have claimed that Christopher Boone (the protagonist) has too many traits to be realistic. For the play however, the director and writer did spend some time at schools whose pupils have disabilities to get an idea of what it may be like to as large an extent as possible. Despite this however, the play illustrated the issues surrounding literal thinking, everyday obstacles with understanding the world and also the issues surrounding being both truthful and untruthful as a person.
Before attending the play and for the first ten minutes of it I was fairly sceptical of its ability to work, after all the book itself only has the views of Christopher himself and I was worried how you could characterise his character realistically and still get across he was intelligent and capable while having social difficulties. However, within the first ten minutes they had proved it was possible. A real rat and the appearance of a ten week puppy also no doubt helped in its success in my mind!
What really made the show was the staging. The entire play took place within 3 black walls, with lots of lights, sounds, diagrams but minimal props. This allowed the audience to experience being Christopher as lights, sounds, numbers, words and faces flashed across the stage with intensified noise at times. For those going to see the show who do suffer from sensory overload this was very extreme and if it wasn’t for a case I had forgotten how to stand up, I probably would have had to go out at this stage. Even for those who do are not normally bothered by lights and sounds may find it challenging, well at least that is the case according to my friends. It did feel fairly accurate however, and a scene showing Christopher trying to work out how to travel using the underground in London did remind me of the same experience I had a few weeks ago! For my friends being able to see this, they said as well it made far more sense as to why I dislike crowds and often appear very vague and distant if I am anyway that is slightly busy.
If you do get a chance to see the play, the real highlight comes after the curtain call has finished, for those who remain in their seats. Christopher turns to the stage and explains to those who are interested in four minutes how he solved a maths question he had mentioned earlier to do with pythagorus!
I would definitely recommend this as a show worth seeing, whether you are or know someone on the spectrum or not!
Sheldon Cooper, Rainman, Christopher Boone are all characters in popular fiction that are said to have had autism. Einstein, Jane Austen amongst others are also reported to have had it. These stereotypes can be both beneficial and insulting for people on the spectrum depending how they are used. When googling for information on autism, sites that come up often are help forums for parents whose children on the spectrum and their insights to these disorders, while these insights are by all means extremely helpful, this blog will instead aim to show what it is like to live with the condition itself.
Having recently become a member of an advisory board run by people with autism to suggest what help may be needed, I’ve realised just how little information there is currently available by both autistic people themselves and also females on the spectrum. While the condition itself can to some extent contribute to this; difficulty with communication and expressing feelings, this blog will aim to overcome this by trying to show what basically it is like to be me, while bearing in mind that one person on the spectrum is just one person on the spectrum.
While I face everyday challenges associated with High Functioning Autism that are often widely made available; difficulty socialising, fairly severe anxiety, problems showing my emotions in a neurotypical fashion, brutal honesty and difficultly processing sensory information, I also benefit from being on the spectrum too. My concentration can at times, according to other people be never ending (actually I normally need a bit of a break after around 6 hours on a task), I see things through to the very end, I’m loyal and I enjoy the little things in life. I feel this side of the spectrum needs to be looked at more and actually that why the spectrum can disable people in some aspects of life, it hugely benefits us in others. I also collect words and quotes, am quick to pick up languages and do through obsessions ranging from Bronte novels, musicals, space, specific countries and pirates.
It also doesn’t stop us from achieving either. If any parent with an autistic child takes even two seconds to read this blog, I just want them to know that your child can achieve with the right support. From a child who had enormous temper tantrums, was asked to leave classes as I didn’t speak and had school changes due to social issues I am now able to study at university and successfully have lived abroad in both Canada and Africa.
Through this blog I really hope to be able to show that autism is not a negative disorder but has many positives. I want to show that it is just another way to see the world and looking at things and that actually it is a condition that should not be hidden away but seen as something that offers people different potentials that are no less worthy in the grand scheme of things then success neurotypical people aspire too.