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Showing posts from April, 2013

Sons are not the same as pets

I'm under instructions from IT teen to write about what I did to him yesterday. I think he feels in need of some remote sympathy or literary redress. And all I did was dye his hair for him.

In case you're wondering, I didn't creep into his room at night and dye it against his will. Nor did I fill his shampoo bottle with some beautiful shade of orange (now that I've thought of it, though, it must be done at some stage).

What I did was what he asked me to do: I helped him dye his hair.

He chose a fetching shade of plum-purple. We've used the hair dye before so he trusted me with the instructions. I did tell him to read them as we went along but instructions are really boring and I don't think I was listening properly.

He has very thick hair so I had to work the dye right in, making sure it reached the roots. I'm sure the instructions said something about working it in though there was no warning about turning his scalp purple.

Actually, I lie. His scalp was a…

Little worry, big worry and what's the difference?

It's so hard to know if you're doing the right thing. How can you tell if you're avoiding stress or ducking out? What's the difference, really?

None, as far as some people are concerned and no difference to me either, if I'm in the mood for making myself suffer or feeling like some good, honest, self-criticism.

I am aware that it is sometimes easy and comfortable to say to myself, 'Oh, this is too much stress for me, at least today. I'll put it off.' Or worse, that I won't ever intend to act, so as to avoid the perceived stress.

Sometimes the stress is imaginary, built up when I look into the future and see where I'm headed. Then the big temptation is to duck out straight away, avoiding the upcoming stress while completely ignoring the fact things might have worked out differently and it would all have been okay.

You can tell yourself any day of the week that you did it as a safety measure, to keep yourself from a difficult experience, to prote…

Tantrums, Meltdown or Rage?

When is a meltdown not a meltdown? When is it temper? When does it expand and evolve, like an inflated, super-fast cell division into pure rage? And is there any real difference between them all?

Firstly, and this is aimed at the friends, family and best beloveds - yes, there is a big difference between all of these things so please rest easy in the knowledge that you are not being unreasonable in treating many of your aspie's outbursts as temper tantrums.

I think, as an aspie and the parent of an aspie, we can be far too eager to tiptoe around the aspie moods and treat them as something allowed instead of going with our gut instinct that is telling us the aspie is having a tantrum, not a spectrumised meltdown.

It can be unpopular to say that aspies have tantrums. No, come on, people with aspergers don't have tantrums, they have meltdowns! (Cue some patronising explanation of why aspies are misunderstood and why meltdowns are not the same as anger).

Listen, everyone has tantr…

Spotting an aspie adult

Have you ever wondered how to spot an aspie adult, at a distance, without having to get too close? It would be so convenient, wouldn't it? To be able to detect the aspieness before you are drawn in, before there is any danger of becoming part of their mad world and waking up one morning, trying to work out where it all went wrong and what happened to all your socks.

Bearing in mind there are always exceptions that prove the rule, here is what you should look for.

In the supermarket I often wonder if I have spotted a fellow aspie. Walking along the aisles, it's easier to people watch than shop, usually because I've forgotten what I need. The supermarket is a good open space where you can spot aspies as they grapple with the complex practicalities of staying alive by food shopping.

The walk: Yes, from a distance or as they pass by, the walk is a dead giveaway. It seems to veer towards extremes, either a fast paced booster effect from A to B, or a meandering wander with no vi…

We're living in the Age of the Aspie

Forget about naming the modern age after anything we've invented, or blown up or claimed for our own. Until we colonise Mars, the most defining thing about our modern age is the nature of humanity's relationships within itself. And that is why I'm renaming our times as The Age of the Aspie.

In days gone by, in the Western World, stiff manners seemed to be everything. No matter what you did behind closed doors, you had to greet people in the right way and present yourself as an upstanding member of society.

It was all about being seen to do the right thing. You had to be polite, hold down a steady job (or look after the home). Everyone knew their place and that place was unlikely to change, even if you made more money or became a success in other ways.

Even when you move into the more modern, outwardly permissive, undoubtedly socially-mobile era, there were still expectations of how people would behave. Society as a whole had guidelines and it was your choice if you lived …

The eternal teenager

I freely admit to being stuck in my teens. Depending on the day, I can be anything from 13 to 15. On a good day I make it all the way to 17 and if it's a bad day I feel as old as 19, with the whole world to worry over.

The thing about teenagers is, in a normal family situation, they are just getting ready to be fully fledged adults. They can take care of themselves in a lot of ways. They won't starve if you leave them alone, they know to lock the doors at night and feed the cat if it meows. They can do a job of work and be pretty much reliable.

They are emotionally volatile at times, ready to fly off the handle at a perceived wrong and also ready to support their friends no matter what. Your average teen can spin through a range of emotions in the same hour and come out the other end smiling.

They are creative and interested in doing fun things with their time. They know the value of free time, you see and are not yet tied to the world of work and responsibility. They plan an…

The bossy aspie vs the helpful aspie?

I'm taking over and that's that. I've waited and been patient and there is very little to show for it so, from now on, I'm the big bad boss of IT teen's job hunting.

I discussed it with RT teen and our aspie wisdom decreed that IT teen was unlikely to look for jobs by himself, let alone apply for them, so it was perfectly reasonable for me to do it and then present him with his interview shoes if necessary.

Yes, I can imagine the cringing going on at your end. For all sorts of reasons it's not really acceptable for a mother to do the job hunting for her son, is it? Reason 1, the lazy so-and-so should look for himself. Reason 2, job hunting is valuable life experience. Reason 3, it's not honest for the employers. And Reason 4, the big one, it's just too controlling, right?

Right on all counts, readers. And I'm sure there are many other reasons why IT teen should do the job hunting himself. But I've done it the right way since last summer. I'…

Setting up a fretting

I try not to worry, I really do, but sometimes you just can't help it. Things are difficult, they go wrong, they promise to be a trial and I'm only human. It's natural to worry sometimes and, for some of us, it's natural to worry a lot of the time.

I am aware of this trait in myself and must admit to feeding it at times. I don't want to suffer, but I don't want to be caught unawares either. I'd rather see trouble before it comes than find out, too late, it's already here.

I wouldn't want you to think I have a bleak outlook. On the contrary, fretting to one side, I have quite an optimistic frame of mind. I put this down to hope as much as experience: I hope things will go well and celebrate when they do.

So where does this leave me as a natural worrier? Well, the urge to worry is tied up with not being surprised. Surprise, above so many things, is to be avoided. If I can avoid surprise, then I feel I have accomplished something and my natural anxiet…

Please wait here while I head for the door

I'm so annoyed with myself sometimes. Not always and never in the planning stages. Just when things begin to come to fruition and there's a danger of making some progress - then I become annoying.

Why is it, when faced with any kind of imminent success my reaction is so often 'Eeek!' rather than 'Yay!'? Why should success, such a good thing, be a source of fear?

In my head, when making lots of plans, I visualise success and know that I'm working towards it. I relish the planning stage and love the anticipation. Rather like Christmas, I have a view of the end result, a hope for the outcome to be just as I imagined. And, also rather like Christmas, when it comes to the actual event, things are often less than perfect.

I think it's a pressure reaction, mainly. It's easy to plan and to imagine what might be, a little harder to put effort into making these things a reality. Then, having done all that, the actual success can inspire terror as it means yo…

You can only avoid things for so long...

As a verified and authenticated Mad Cat Lady, I can tell you with confidence that cats love hierarchy. Rather like human people, cats like to know where they stand and, more importantly, who is above or below them in the pecking order (if you'll forgive the avian reference).

If you have only one or two cats, it's pretty simple to sort out who is in charge. Once you get a few, it becomes complicated and this is where cat politics come into play. (Bear with me, there is an aspiefied point to all this).

Dusty is a small cat with delicate feet and a pointy nose. On the inside, he is a great Caesar, with his troops arrayed before him. On the outside, he is still small, black and inoffensive. He took it upon himself to become top cat a few years ago, displacing Granny Miffy, a fearsome female with quick-draw-paws. Since then, he's had to keep up appearances.

He knows he has a responsibility to fend off other cats, to maintain his position, to be the leader and not the led. He s…

How are aspies awkward? Let me count the ways.

Actually, shall I just count the ways we're not awkward instead? It would be a lot quicker and might come across as more positive? Or am I just being awkward now?

All right then, but this list is not my final decision and I'm sure if you asked a non-aspie, then the awkwardness list would become an epic fantasy novel, with dragons, battle-hardened maidens, songs around camp-fires, sprites in jars, no toilet facilities and too much protein.

The aspie is awkward in their physical attitude: We droop, we mooch, we bump into things, we get in the way, we trip over thin air, we drop stuff, we touch the TV and the house falls into darkness. If there is an awkward way to do something, we don't need to find it, it finds us.

Even aspies who are good with their hands will open the door the wrong way going into the shop, let it fall back accidentally against the little old lady then step on her as they turn back, trying to put things right.

The dog will be let loose as the lead slips t…

Getting the wrong end of the stick...and waving it

In other words, taking something completely the wrong way or misunderstanding what your own senses are telling you. It's very easily done, can cause great confusion and is often exasperating to everyone else.

A small example: I was sitting in my car when I heard a man whistling, the kind you do to get someone's attention. He kept repeating it and I was looking to see where he was. A few seconds later I spotted him. It was an older gent, in a bright pink jacket with a shopping bag. He was moving along the pavement at speed, doing a jig as he went. He was bent slightly, laughing and was focused on the man walking ahead of him, who was oblivious to being followed.

The older man was speeding up and would soon reach his target. He had his head lower now and if he didn't slow down, he'd barrel right into the back of the man in front. I waited to see what would happen, wondering if he was going to jump on him, or head butt him, or even hit him with the carrier bag. Whatever,…

Building up your worries

I was talking to my mother about stress and she pointed out that you can only deal with one bundle of worry at a time, that it was important to separate your worries out into piles and then work on taking apart one pile at a time. She used the word 'dismantling', which made me think my worries were like something I had built.

This makes sense, if you think about it. Stress and worry and all the attendant nasties that go with them are built up by us, often into a monolith, ready to tower above us and blot out the light. We don't mean it to happen, we often intend the very opposite, thinking if we examine our worries, then we can work through them and find solutions.

Somehow, so often, looking for solutions opens up all the other worries too and I realise that I have more to resolve than I first thought. Or, I realise this isn't the time when I can resolve them, either because I'm not in the right frame of mind or it just cannot be done.

This last one is a whopper: …