Monday, 28 September 2009


I have finally arrived and I'm at my parent's house. Now the real exercise in killing time begins. I've been here less than an hour and I hate it already. The complete silence. My parents just sat around reading newspapers. I hope that if I get to that age I don't choose to fill my days with absolutely nothing at all.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Getting there

Last night I hit the town to try and find some nice bars. First bar I stumbled across looked up my alley…small, dark and dingy. It was only when I went in that I realised it was some kind of "Rasta" bar. It was playing reggae music, the bar staff and two customers were all of the African persuasion too. So I stayed for a single beer, pretty much counting down the time, though it did make me laugh when Customer #3 walked into be greeted my hand-signals and patois from the bar staff. They asked what he wanted and he said he'd like to start the night with a shot. "Shots for everyone?" the barman replied…a few moments later his hand rested just past my shoulder and made a sweep of the bar that included all but me and added "Well…shots for these people."

I wandered to find a bar that caught my eye while walking around earlier but it was closed. I found another nice quiet bar up a back-street that seemed my scene so I went in for a beer. What struck me was that for a Saturday evening the whole town was dead. I can only imagine that maybe people don't come out til later, or that there is a street or region unknown to me that is jumping with trendy bars. Where I live every pub is packed on weekend evenings. Anyway…I sat at the bar on the nice comfy stool and supped my beer and people kinda came and went, but it was quiet overall. It only dawned on me about three quarters of the way through my drink that this particular bar was a gay bar LOL. Again this wouldn't happen where I live as all gay bars have this unofficial system of identifying themselves as gay bars so that people know. Not that it bothers me, of course, I don't care if people are gay and I have to admit it's the first time I've been in a gay bar. It might have been more interesting if it was busier I guess. What overcame me the most was the "Homer Simpson" element of it and I had to chuckle to myself at the Simpsons episode where he is looking for a new bar to hang out in and comes across a gay bar.

In the daylight I returned to the scene of the crime and the pub's logo outside was bright pink and in the window a sticker proclaiming that the "FitBoys" magazine was available to buy on the premises!

After checking out of my hotel I went to visit fellow Asperger's Syndrome (AS) blogger Matt. I left too much time getting there as I didn't know how long it would take, so I was at the pub about 5 minutes early. I had a hunch that Matt would walk in bang on the time we had agreed to meet, and this he did indeed :) One thing about people with AS is that they're sticklers for being exactly on time. I spent about two hours with Matt and it was good to talk with a fellow AS sufferer who was roughly my age and we traded notes and stories and never once mentioned the weather. I would dearly have liked to stay longer but alas I had to start the next leg of my journey. I am currently in the next hotel of my trip (again I will post this when I next get internet access) after a fairly uneventful journey here, but a hellish time finding this hotel as it was night and down dark country roads. I really had no idea where I was so had to get directions. I'm here now, and will just stay in the hotel's bar, however I see they want me out by 10am which will be a job! I'll have to make sure I'm up in time and showering might have to wait until I am finally at my parent's. At least hitting the road sooner will get me to where I'm going sooner, though I suspect I'll use some of the extra time to just stop off more often.

I did stop on the way here for something to eat and the service station only had a Wimpy so I was not familiar with the menu, however mustering my life skills I still managed to order in a time quick enough to ensure those waiting behind me were not contemplating murder/suicide. "Do you want to go large on that?" the till assistant asked me to which I replied "yes" however I got regular size anyway. At least it was the food that I asked for this time, but so far service station fast food joints are 0 for 2.

The CD I had on was one I hadn't listened to in a long, long time and it turned out to be not so great a choice as it brought back a lot of memories of back home and people and things I was going through when this music was a part of my life. It's funny how songs get permanently linked to what was happening in your life when you first hear them.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Yesterday was my last day of work after three years. It's an awkward time as I hate being the centre of attention but you have to go through the card ceremony and people want to go for a drink after work, and insist you keep in touch and blah blah. I live my life so disconnected from other people it's strange when you come to realise that it isn't reciprocal and that other people seem to have a genuine like for you or desire for you to be involved in their life in some way. I doubt I will stay in touch though. I'd like to stay in touch with some of them, but I know what it’s like. I've been here before. I just don't know the rules to the "stay in touch" game and I can never maintain friends when I leave a workplace. Besides, I'll have a new job in a new company with new pretend friends.

My boss game me an exit interview too which I used to really lay into some people that I work with. People who want to be my friend and want me to keep in touch. I'm sure part of my ability to shake someone's hand then stab them in the back is related to my Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Not that I'm nasty, or bitchy or anything, but I felt the boss had a right to know the good points as well as the flaws in some of his staff. Again as I am disconnected from people I can be quite cold and serious when I need to. If the boss needs to know things about people, I'll let him know. To me it is just being professional, but to others it is probably being a traitor.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today I have taken the first step in my week-long journey into the past. Back to my place of birth, back to my parents. I'm even meeting an old friend (the girl who contacted me a while back) which is especially unusual as I've lost contact with everyone, and to be honest I have no real desire to re-establish contact with them.

I'm currently in a hotel writing this (I'll post it when I next get internet access). Hotels are great. They're all clean and everything is nice, and you don't have to worry about making a mess. I always feel bad when I visit other people's houses and see how clean people are…hotel clean. Where I live in comparable squalor. I'd love to be hotel clean too. I'd love to not worry about people coming over, but I've tried to be clean and I always slowly slip into my old ways. The view from the hotel is great too. I'm on the fifth floor in an anonymous window, looking out over the whole city.

On the drive up I had a typically British experience when I stopped at some services for something to eat. I went to Burger King and there was only one person on the till. The guy in front was seemingly attempting to set the world record for the longest time taken to order food. It's Burger King…surely you knew the menu already? So I have to wait while he ums and ahs, and he had a child with him who was probably 5 or 6 (I'm terrible at telling ages) who seemed to lose the power of speech when asked what he wanted. Instead he'd point at the menu while the dad played an irritating game of "The burger? The burger? Is it the burger you want? The burger? Yeah? The burger?" The child would move his finger slightly "The chicken bits? You want the chicken bits? Yeah? The chicken? You want the chicken?".

Eventually it was my turn to order, a feat I was proud to complete in mere seconds. "Large Whopper Meal please". What's so f**king hard about that! Eh! However as is typical in this country, the person serving was foreign and didn't understand me. *sigh* So I repeat. She can barely speak English herself. After finally getting what I want she asked if I wanted it "large". *sigh* When she told me the cost I realised she'd charged me wrong so probably got my order wrong *sigh* When she put the drinks out they were not large *sigh*. Luckily someone came to help her and spotted that the drinks she'd put out for the two waiting orders (one mine) were wrong as both were supposed to be large. So he managed to fix that, correcting my wrong order. Had he not have been there she would have not only got the order wrong but given me the wrong size too. What a completely useless human being. When my order was ready it indeed was not what I ordered but I was too tired to say anything, I just took it. I guess we get the service in this country that we deserve. I suppose I should have told her she took my order wrong, and also reminded her that she didn't originally "large" it either.

Anyway. I've had a look at the hotel's restaurant to see what they have and the only two things I'd eat (the chicken or the steak) both come with a cheese sauce. What's with that? I checked their bar out too but it was quite small and intimate and really busy. So I'll probably take a wander into town and get something to eat there, maybe find a pub too before coming back here to sample the hotel bar with Dutch courage.

Travelling is just a game of killing time. Only there is no satellite TV, no XBOX, no DVD, no internet. Just me and 5 TV channels. It's 8pm here and now I just need to kill some time until I can go to bed and tomorrow will be another day. Another journey. Another wrong BK order.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

What I did during the war

My parents sent me a copy of my full birth certificate, and with it they sent me my old school reports. I don't remember too much from my early school days so it's an interesting glimpse into the past and how I was as a child. Obviously I was interested to see if it gave any signs of Asperger's Syndrome.

Year 1 - 5 years old

Listening: Easily distracted. Effort: Satisfactory
Spoken English: Satisfactory. Effort: Satisfactory
Reading: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
Numbers: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory

Ability to express ideas;
Drawing: Competent
Movement: Competent
Speech: Competent
Writing: Has difficulty (note: with care and effort written work should improve)

General note: AS4L is rather immature, but he can cope with the work of the class

Year 2 - 6 years old

Listening: Easily distracted. Effort: Satisfactory
Spoken English: Satisfactory. Effort: Satisfactory
(note: AS4L's written English would improve if he put more care and effort into it)
Reading: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
Numbers: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory

Ability to express ideas;
Drawing: Competent
Movement: Competent
Speech: Competent

General note: AS4L's work should improve with maturity

Year 3 - 7 years old

Listening: Easily distracted. Effort: Unsatisfactory
(note: AS4L finds it hard to concentrate)
Spoken English: Satisfactory. Effort: Satisfactory
(note: AS4L's written work is both careless and badly presented)
Reading: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
Numbers: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory

Ability to express ideas;
Drawing: Competent
Movement: Competent
Speech: Competent

General note: Progress is satisfactory

Year 6 - 10 years old

Listening: Easily distracted. Effort: Unsatisfactory
Spoken English: Satisfactory. Effort: Satisfactory
Reading: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
Written English: Competent. Effort: Unsatisfactory
(note: Presentation very poor due to lack of effort)

Mathematical skills;
Practical problems: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
Computation: Competent. Effort: Satisfactory
(note: Presentation again poor)

Centres of interest;

Social Studies: Interested
Science: Interested

Interests and aptitudes;
Creative arts: Interested
Dramatic activities: Interested
Recreative reading: Interested
Creative writing: Interested
Musical activities: Interested
Physical education: Interested

So I was pretty average across the board. Not excelling or showing promise at anything, immature with poor written work and easily distracted.

Friday, 18 September 2009

What's in a name?

Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is a…well…a syndrome. But have you ever thought what a syndrome actually is and what qualifies something as being a syndrome?

A syndrome is something that is indicated by a group of symptoms for which the actual cause is not known. So imagine we didn't know about the influenza virus, but people would be seen to suffer the symptoms of fever, sore throat and muscle pains at the same time; we can class these as a group of symptoms. If the root cause of what causes this group of symptoms wasn't known (ie the influenza virus) then we'd class this phenomenon as a "syndrome" as we recognise that the group of symptoms must mean something is wrong, but we don't know what that "something" is.

We do know about the influenza virus, though, so flu is not a syndrome at all but a disease. However look at AIDS. AIDS is "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome"…yep, a syndrome. When AIDS first came out we recognised the symptoms (a greatly reduced immune system giving rise to numerous conditions rarely seen in healthy people) but no-one knew the actual cause so it was classed as a syndrome. After much research the cause of AIDS was found…the HIV virus. So AIDS is no-longer officially a syndrome. This leads us nicely to another point…when a syndrome's name is very well known and wide-spread and the cause is eventually found we tend to just leave the name as it is even if it is no longer a syndrome.

Getting back to Asperger's Syndrome, if someone has the symptoms of impaired social interaction, impairment of non-verbal behaviour, failure to develop appropriate peer relationships, lack of desire to share enjoyment and lack of emotional reciprocity we recognise that group of symptoms as meaning that person has Asperger's Syndrome; however we don't know the actual cause of the impairments - remember that no-one knows the cause of autism yet. When the cause of AS is finally discovered we can be quite sure the name won't change though, it will always be called Asperger's Syndrome even if one day it ceases to be one.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Planes, trains and automobiles

Well the garage couldn't find anything wrong with my car so I'm just going to have to "wait and see" if it goes wrong again. *sigh* Not really want I wanted to hear but such is my life.

While the car was in the garage I was relegated to using the bus to get around. Luckily there was a bus shelter right outside the garage. Unluckily it stank of urine. Luckily it wasn't raining so I was able to comfortably stand outside and upwind. The bus came after 10 minutes of waiting and getting on was going from the frying pan into the fire as the bus stank of cigarettes. I can only imagine a million tarred exhales from 40-a-day hoi polloi all boxed in with nowhere to go.

I know that when driving a car you are at a greater risk of being involved in a traffic accident…however you have to balance that against the fact that when you ride the bus you're at a greater risk of being stabbed to death by a nutter. You see, normal people don't use the bus. Every person getting onto the bus is dishevelled, jumpy, smelly, talkative, you name it. I know enough about busses that to avoid the nutters sitting next to you, you sit on the aisle seat, but that's a bit selfish as you're blocking an empty window seat. Luckily the busses I was on have a few single-seats at the front of the bus to make the entrance a bit wider for people with prams etc. So I would occupy these front seats for guilt-free, nutter-free transportation.

Monday, 7 September 2009

As dead as dead can be

This morning my car was an ex-car. Not even the central-locking worked. Great.

So I took the bus to work and called the breakdown people when I got home. They fired it up and everything is fine, but after running some tests on various things there is something drawing a charge from the battery when it's left off which is why it went flat. Admittedly I hadn't driven it since coming back from work on Friday so I'm not quite sure how long it took to go flat. So the only thing I can do is to start it up each day to hopefully stop it from not starting and get it looked at. I'll phone the garage tomorrow morning when they open and hopefully they can see it quick, or at least take it off my hands and it can sit with them until they look at it as I can do without the paranoia that it'll go flat again on my driveway.

This is just what I need a few weeks before I'm supposed to be driving it back home to see my folks. Needless to say my anxiety levels are through the roof. Work's not helping either by expecting me to work still when I have almost no motivation. And I'm worried about starting my new job. I really don't need this on my plate right now. Add to the fact that it's still a total unknown as to what the problem actually is and it could take minutes or hours to diagnose. It's 9pm and I haven't eaten a single thing all day and I don't even feel hungry. I did nothing at work, I just can't get this car thing off my mind.

So best case scenario is that I call them tomorrow, they say to bring it in, they look at it for a while and fix it. Worst case is that it's dead again tomorrow or they can't see it tomorrow and it dies before they can and I have to get the breakdown people out again. I hate having to "do" things, I hate having to phone people and organise and arrange things. In a way it brings me back to my diagnosis when the psych talked me through a few periods in my life (to address the "people with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) don't like change" issue) and commented that I've gone through some big changes in my life such as changing jobs, moving around the country. My answer to that was "Well…sometimes you just have to." Does having AS mean I have to stay with my parents and never get a job? This is one of those times…I hate having to deal with these things, it makes me anxious as hell, but sometimes you just have to do it. Like those job forms that took me about two weeks to get through…sometimes you just have to get down to it.

Anyway. I'm self-medicating tonight and I'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

When I was going through school one thing made me really stand out from my peers and I suspect that it was related to my Asperger's Syndrome (AS). Basically I hated sport and wasn't competitive in any way. I've always been rubbish at anything physical (I know I go to the gym but any idiot can lift something up then put it back down again) or anything that requires co-ordination and teamwork. My non-competitive edge was, I think, partially my AS and partially my desire to avoid the embarrassment of failure.

Sport was mandatory at my school and the sport of choice that was forced on you was almost always football. When forced to play I would simply stand on the pitch making no attempt to go for the ball or even move. If the ball came anywhere close to me I'd still stand there and let it roll by. When they thought they'd be clever and put me in goal they'd soon change their mind when I'd just stand in goal also. If the ball was anywhere near me I'd actually get out of its way.

The school didn't seem to mind, but you can't really force someone to participate, and I think they also knew that my actual punishment would come not from them but from my peers. And of course they were right. Where I grew up football wasn't a matter of life and death…it was more important than that. Football was people's "way out". There was no real employment where I grew up and I went to a school in a disadvantaged area with people whose parents didn't work, were single parents and on benefits. Becoming a professional footballer was their way out of poverty. I always knew that university would be my way out, but by interfering with their precious game I was interfering with their future so it didn't do anything to improve my popularity.

The lack of competitive spirit is something that has stayed with me; however I have found that I can be quite competitive with myself. Getting back to the gym as an example, one thing that drives you on month after month is that you want to beat yourself. You want to lift more this week than you did last week, or lift it better, or lift it more times. It's a gradual process where week by week you improve in increments. When I use the bikes I am constantly trying to burn more calories than I did the week before, keep a higher average RPM, go further. I have all manner of statistics and figures going around in my head and I attempt to better them.

The only thing I've done that comes close to being competitive with others is racing my car. Not on track with other cars…I'm not made of money :) but special timed events where it is just one car on track at a time and your lap times are recorded. It's a good compromise as no-one really wants to race on-track with other cars in their daily driver, but trackdays don't offer any real comparison or competition as they are not timed and you don't "race". This way the only damage you'll do is if you fall off track, but you're still timed so can compare your results to others. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet I was pretty good, usually finishing at the top end of the table, however it was only myself I was really racing. Every lap I just wanted to go faster than my last one. I didn't want to beat others, I went out to beat myself. If I did well compared to others of course that's a good feeling but it's not what I did it for. Alas one of the reasons I stopped racing was the attitude of other drivers. I hated the competitive spirit of others and how it made them behave and act. I hate being around competitive people, I just wanted to get on and do my own thing but it just got harder and harder so ultimately I stopped.

If these things are AS related then if you have AS and want to try sport, or have children with AS and want them to try sport, maybe pick things where you are mainly competing against yourself. Things like golf or snooker come to mind. While they are still against a single opponent, they are mainly against yourself. You can practice both on your own and with golf you aim to get your handicap down and your course score down. With snooker you're trying to improve your break scores, your frame scores, your pots per visit etc. Compare those with something like boxing where it is only ever a competition between you and your opponent and everything is quite subjective.