Tuesday, 30 December 2008


It's the eye of a horrible storm. That time of year where Christmas has passed and you're waiting for New Year. Stuck between two horrific days. I'm off work all week and days just get wasted. Drink til I even get bored of doing that. Wander around town and everyone is out in their new jacket, new shoes, new bag, new hat…new whatever they got for Christmas. Clothes seem to be a popular Christmas gift for others. It's important to people how others see them and it's important that they are out and seen.

While I do appreciate the time off work, the break in routine can be a drag and I fill each day just waiting for the end. I get out of my bed too late to do anything of value or worth and go to bed regretting that I did nothing, hoping that tomorrow will be different.

Having no real life skills also means I never have any food in the house and live day to day as they come, relying on the work ethic of local takeaways when required…at least there are some places for who it's just another day.

Friday, 19 December 2008


My Asperger's Syndrome was only diagnosed recently, about 8 months ago. Before that I lived my life undiagnosed and there was always a niggle at the back of mind; I always knew I was "different", "just not right". That niggling feeling was paired with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. After all, they were the only things I could think of that could possibly be the root of my issues.

It's taken quite a while, but I've now come to realise something since my diagnosis… I'm not the person I thought I was.

When I initially went for my diagnosis I didn't think much about any effects it would have. A small part of me wondered if it would make any difference to me at all. Yet 8 months later I'm re-evaluating everything. I'm trying to find out who I *really* am. I'm trying to cast off my old skin and grow into my new skin, into my real skin. It's like I can finally stop trying to be what everyone else is and what everyone else wants, and just be who I am. Warts and all. Instead of suppressing and changing, I am now embracing.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Christmas Shopping

I got my Christmas Shopping (the little that I do) out of the way today. I combined it with going to a nearby town to collect my comics as I knew one item I needed to buy was sold in one of those industrial areas that I pass on the way.

Arriving at town, I parked up and went to a chip shop to get some sustenance, however the girl behind the counter asked if it was ok to wait while she cooked up some chips. I declined and said I'd be back later. Here is a tip you can add to your list of life's rules…never say you'll wait for chips in a chip shop as they don't want to keep you waiting too long so they're always underdone and roasting hot as they're right out the fryer.

Outside the comic shop was a ghastly woman on a mobile phone (I think ghastly people undergo some form of operation to have mobile phones transplanted onto their heads) talking about her financial problems in a volume such that anyone in the area could hear. So I pretended to look at some items in the window while I vicariously aided this woman in publicly washing her linen. It seems she was owed some £60 for an electricity bill or other.

Inside the shop a man was already at the counter so I had a browse of the shelves first. Now if you don't buy comics you won't know this, but comic shops are run like no other shop. You don't go in and take things from the shelves…the person who runs the shop has a list of the titles each customer regularly gets and when he gets his stock in he puts any comic on your list into your "file". So when you enter the shop the person running it gets your comics from your file, and you pay for any one-off purchases you may had made that day also. As I was browsing the woman from outside comes in and it appears the man at the counter is her husband. Her voice has not lessened for not being on the phone. She was incredibly loud and recounted a tale to her husband about how someone she knows went to Subway for lunch, and the story involved what they had to eat, with the punch line being "An' guess ‘ow much it was? Eight quid!"

It seems this woman fills her days with quarrels over money and the cost of living. And what was her husband buying? £250 worth of movie memorabilia.

Leaving the comic shop I went to buy some more work shirts so that I don't have to do laundry as often. Two shirts, an' guess ‘ow much? Fifty quid! Annoyed at having to spend so much and wondering where people on benefits buy their clothes, I entered the city centre proper on the hunt for gifts. The streets are always busy at the weekend but now it is nearing Christmas you can barely see 200 yards without your view being blocked by a temporary hut or stall selling this and that. People were, as usual, utterly without agenda and strolled everywhere at 0.5mph while their unruly children ran amok, brandishing rolls of wrapping paper like swords. If a child isn't pushing 99p worth of cardboard tubing into your ribs, someone outside a store is pushing a leaflet into your face, or shaking a bucket full of money, or comforting a crying child. I swear I've never seen so many crying children as I did today.

After telling the 1,000th shop assistant than I was fine and just looking, I still didn't find anything suitable so decided to head home. On the way back to my car I popped by the chip shop but they were now closed. Still, I'd rather have no chips than hard chips that taste like lava.

I actually live quite close to a large town, so I decided to walk there to see if I could complete my shopping. 2,000 "No thanks, I'm just looking"s later and my shopping was finally complete. The next task is the hardest…waiting in line at the Post Office to send the gifts! However that can wait for another day. Tonight I shall lock the gates, bring up the drawbridge and watch a DVD, eat popcorn, drink beer and forget Christmas even exists.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I'm an Asperger in Neuro-typical world

The world is moving on but not always in ways that are compatible with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). I've been interested in computers and electronic games from their very beginning when the gods at Atari gave us Space Invaders, Pac Man, River Raid, Missile Command and Pitfall. I've stayed with games and computers through the Amstrad CPC, Amiga, then onto PCs and XBOXs. However now games seem to be all about "multi-player", with some games even being multi-player only. I'm fine with games having a multi-player element, but it seems there are forces at work in the games industry to make games only about multiplayer. It's like some self-serving gaming guru has decreed that multi-player is the future and we will be beaten and cajoled until we are all heading in the "right" direction.

I don't want to play multi-player games. I don't want to be forced to communicate with someone over a headpiece to negotiate playing a game. While playing a game I don't want to have to be communicating with other people, either giving or taking instructions. It's not just the unwanted communication, but have you ever played games on-line? It is populated with netizens who are 12 years old and think that throwing racist or jingoistic abuse is funny. Then there is the whole aspect of actually getting a game. No "press A to start" here…oh no. You have to find a suitable "session" that you can join. Then you have to try and last 5 seconds before being booted from it. If you do get to join a game you can do badly and get booted, do well and get booted, or be mediocre and hope to last a few games…before being booted.

In my rare forays into multi-gaming I've always found it best to host my own games. That way I just let people play. If they're rubbish noobs I don't boot them, if they're 1337 and totally pwn me I still don't boot them. I like to be fair…but it's often not enough. You see people come to expect communication from you as the game host, such as unofficial rules or even what we want to play next. So people often don't stick around to play with me much.

Then there is the internet. Once a tool for researching movies, settling arguments and finding out the news of the day, it has now been taken over by "social networking". It's the latest bandwagon and there are many sites onboard. It seems you're nobody if you don't have a facebook account, or a myspace or bebo. No group of adults can be together for more than 5 minutes without talking about facebook, or their wall or their status. Every picture taken at a nightclub is on facebook no more than 20 minutes after being committed to the camera's memory. It's like the world's biggest club and I'm not invited.

And, like multi-player gaming, it seems there are forces at work that want to force you onto their bandwagon. Facebook has launched a technology called "connect" that lets you interact with third-party sites using your facebook details. Is their dream for the future one where everyone is on facebook? That it is all of our home pages?

I guess some people with AS would actually welcome this trend. Maybe I'm being too hasty. Maybe social networking on-line is a boon to those who can't do it in real life? Not for me, though, I seek the companionship of on-line people as much as I do real people. I would get no comfort from seeing all of my "friends" crammed into a box.

Still it's not all bad. Aren't self-service checkouts great? No people on the till, no small talk, no chatty checkout girls, no feeling that people are judging you by the "meals for one" that you're buying.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Lesser symptoms

Asperger's Syndrome (AS) has some quite fundamental affects on your life and some heavy bananas symptoms, but there are some lesser symptoms too. As I keep stressing, with AS not everyone will have these symptoms and others may have lesser symptoms that I don't have. However here are a few I haven't really covered before and don't really warrant their own individual postings.

A strange gait - I've kinda grown out of this a little, but when I was younger I had a very strange way of walking. I'd bounce up and down as I walked and it's another one of those symptoms that are visible to other people. As I've grown up I don't think I walk as bad, but I still walk funny. I hate catching a view of myself in a shop widow cos it reminds me how awkward I look.

Facial tics - again something visual, and something I've all but grown out of. I used to screw my face up either randomly or when stressed in some way. This tic was like a compulsion, and unless you've have a compulsion it's a hard thing to understand. It's like I just had to do it. When I knew I wanted to do it and focused so that I didn't, the more I'd focus the stronger the urge until I had to give in. I now do this sometimes, slightly, when exercising still but that's it.

Awful handwriting - my English teacher told me I have the writing of someone who hates to write. My handwriting has always been bad, so bad even I can't read it. Alas that has carried forward until today. I'm lucky in that I hardly ever have to write as I use computers all the time, and communicate via e-mail…and now that "chip 'n' pin" is here I hardly ever put pen to paper. I do have to take notes at meetings at work though and when I look back a few days later they might as well have been written by a chimp.

The strange thing about these lesser symptoms is that they are all noticeable by other people. Maybe the combination of all three (or four if you count the eye-contact issue) could be a way of possibly identifying people with AS just by observation alone? Maybe I have subconsciously worked at eliminating these as I've gotten older as a way of masking my autism?