You can't pack logic and common sense in the same bag

Sometimes a person can have so much logic that common sense won't fit. Or common sense pushes in and logic has to pop right out. There just doesn't seem to be enough room for both at the same time.

It's like this: your friend always packs their shopping bags the wrong way. One day you explain the right way and are absolutely sure you were subtle, calm and kind and that no feelings were hurt. Except then your friend is all touchy about it and snappy and makes out they know how to pack their bags.

(obviously they didn't know or else you wouldn't have had to tell them)

((but now they do))

Feelings were apparently hurt because those bags had been packed wrong all this time, or because your friend has no idea how to take good advice or because, um, maybe they really loved that old way of packing bags? I don't know but feelings were hurt despite your best efforts to approach the subject in a good way.

That's logic and logic kicks you every time when it comes to other people. Logically, your friend should want to know how to pack their bags and should definitely want to know if they have been doing it the wrong way their whole adult life. Logically you have done a good thing in making sure they now have unsquashed bread and finally understand about cross-contamination.

Later, usually much later, in fact usually after consulting with someone else, you discover your friend was upset because you were critical of them in a public place, ie the checkout, and wouldn't take their hint to keep it down and because they didn't seem to be listening you raised your voice and did that thing where you make sure you get your message across no matter what.

Once this is explained common sense makes a brief stopover, just long enough for you to have that familiar sinking feeling but not long enough to make any real difference.

For a period of time after the event you recognise that your behaviour, meant to be so logical and helpful, actually upset/embarrassed/annoyed your friend to the extent that you are now having to seriously consider apologising for being so helpful (it is a truly crazy world).

The best you can now hope for is that next time common sense will step in first and stop you before you get to the stage of using The Voice or even just stop you from talking altogether. You vow never to offer advice again, even though this will mean leaving your friends and family in ignorance and under threat of mistakes you could help them avoid.

This promise to yourself lasts only as long as the sinking feeling and is soon replaced by the happy acceptance, vague, very non-specific, that next time will be different because you now know not to upset your friend in that way.

The next time you go shopping together (it may be a long time) you will remember not to tell them how to pack their bags and you may even notice their nervous glances as they wait for you to say something. You will also notice their meat is now separate from the other food but they still like squashed bread.

And you will be delighted to find you can restore their trust completely by explaining how online shopping works so that they never again need to worry about not being able to pack their bags.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

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There is never just one aspie in the family

Many of us know other people in our family who are 'eccentric' but were never diagnosed with anything. They were just difficult, creative, awkward, inventive, rude, honest, loud, quiet, odd, different, or 'You know, like your Uncle Lenny'.
There are others who are still looked on as the only one in their family on the autistic spectrum. It is just them and only them and they are special or all of the above and they don't fit the family mold.

And I guess it might be so. In a small number of families (really, really dull families and a really small number of them), the aspie might shine out with the brightness of a frost-lit star. Yes, they might be a throwback, the only one who is like this and surrounded by grey normality.

Or Aunty Glenys is just pretending to be normal. And good old Dad with his sedate hobby of model trains would have an actual meltdown if you hadn't all learned to leave his damn trains alone. Or your aspie is really the secret love-child of groovy Mr Fairbanks from down the road.

Either way, autistic spectrum disorders run in the family - they do! You might think your aspie is the only one and you have the diagnosis to prove it , especially as no one else in the family has a diagnosis. Your child struggles with real-life things that you never struggled with so they are the one on the spectrum. Your own set of behaviours are completely normal. It takes an outsider to see where the dots connect.

While your aspie child misunderstands questions, you might misread situations: the misunderstood questions are noticed because you are on the alert for your child getting things wrong but when you misunderstand situations, everyone in the family is already used to re-explaining what they meant so no one mentions it.

Your aspie child might come out of school bawling their eyes out and making the biggest, fattest fuss and how embarrassing that is! and how tempting to whisper to those judgy parents that your child is on the spectrum

never remembering your own isolation at school, your absolute quiet, your need to get everything possible right because of how it felt to be wrong and forgetting entirely how your attention to detail at school led to attention to detail at work and how much you still hate to get anything wrong

but you don't make a fuss, do you? So you are different from your child.

Growing up quiet and filtering out the comments from adults about anything you did that surprised them and understanding you had to do things a certain way to be right, which is all part of growing up, then not recognising when you correct your child for the same things.

Just not getting it. Not getting how Granny's outspoken comments in public could point to something more than her age, or that thing she tried to do with the leftover food last week, or the anxiety you feel when you try to manage the situations with her in them so that everything will still be quiet and controlled.

Not everyone can look at themselves and see what they do in a clear light, but it can be too easy to look at the aspie in your family and explain how you see them. Putting the spotlight on someone else does not mean you don't share the same stage.

You have an aspie in the family, does it not seem likely they aren't the first? And how far back do you have to go before you find someone else on the spectrum? It is a very big spectrum full of pretty colours, I'm sure you could identify a few of them if you looked.

And if you do have the first aspie in your family, well wow! That does make you special! And I mean that in a good way. You're special, yes you are!

(That part is sarcasm, in case you sometimes feel you need it pointed out to you.)

((I know, I know, it's completely normal to need sarcasm pointing out to you, isn't it?))

Every child is different and they all need treated they way that suits them. Being on the spectrum is just another part of family life, even if it seems like a great big part. As your child grows, it would be much better to show them the example of how to manage life rather than tell them how they don't manage.

And when you are fishing things back out of the toilet or extricating your child from another adventure, just think how lucky you are to be one of those families where there is always something going on and how dull life would be without it.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
Find me on Facebook.and Twitter!

And my fairy blog!

Taking time to stop and stare....and stare some more

I'm almost always late, so often that if I'm early by a few minutes I feel like I should hang around somewhere before arriving, in case people are upset. Partly this is bad time management combined with not actually wanting to turn up but sometimes it's because I stopped to stare.
There is always something to catch me out and take up all my attention. Usually a small thing, a pitifully small thing that doesn't really deserve this kind of attention. And yet I give it.

This morning I was walking past a house where they still had Christmas lights. Their front door was framed by an arch of lights and then inside this arch were two little trees, all brightly lit. I kept walking, not wanting to stop, but still I stared.

I was taken by the symmetry of the lights, the care someone had taken to make this a full scene in miniature. Also, it was still full dark and the lights shone out into the street so that it was impossible not to - yikes! - the man walking past jumped into the road before I walked right into him. It really is no good trying to walk when you still want to stare, better just to give in and do your watching.

There is a house I go to where I do try to spend all my time teaching their son and yet, and yet, that little bowl all full of colours, it draws me every time. It is as if the dancing colours wait for me and then invite me to contemplate them, fresh and new each time and just as beautiful.

Many a time I've brought my face back to where it should be to find a young student peering at me then at where I looked, trying to work out what I saw that was so interesting. Sometimes it's a lamp, a picture, anything shiny; sometimes it's nothing in the real world and instead, like a cat edging along a lonely wall, I have been watching unseen, invisible things.

This last one is the kicker. How is any decent person meant to avoid stopping and staring if you don't even need a real life, real existence thing to stare at? What if you can also stop and stare at the world within? And that world takes the place of the other, more real and tangible than anything this life has to offer, at least for the moments you are taken by it.

I haven't figured out the answer to this one and wouldn't really want to. Still, it would be good to be able to switch off the untimely fascination with whatever and turn on the ability to concentrate when I actually need it - and when other people are watching.

Until then I'll carry on staring at the flickering of a giant, tumultuous candle in a mason jar, or the light as it glitters of the frame, or the butterfly clip in a student's hair, the sheen on the textbook, the picture of you when you were eleven and the way my hand looks against the table.

The best I can do is what I always do: if you call me, I'll come back and if you like, I'll tell you where I've been. Anything more than that is too difficult, there are just too many wonderful things to stare at, in this world and the others.


 A Guide to Your Aspie

 How to talk to your Aspie

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
Find me on Facebook.and Twitter!

And my fairy blog!