Full List of Blog Posts

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Getting Down to Detail
9th April 2015
In his book, “Language: the Cultural Tool” Daniel Everett writes, “We can understand information [as] … all the things there are to talk about. It is perhaps infinite. But culture and circumstance will severely restrict what might be said in a particular exchange between two people … human cultures narrow the things there are to talk about and keep the flow of information manageable.” … [read more]
Tags: autism, friendship, interaction, self-confidence

The Boy in the Coffee Shop
6th December 2014
Last weekend I watched a boy, aged about six, standing on the chair in my local coffee shop (Costa, if you’re wondering): his parents just let him stand there, calling out, and clearly disturbing other customers. But I saw the anxious look on his face, and found myself relating to every flinch, shiver, and sound he made. It reminded me of a previous visit when, as an experiment, I took off my headphones, and exposed myself to all the input… [read more]
Tags: autism, awareness, coffee, coping strategies, labels, sensory

Do You Have Asperger’s?
28th November 2014
Probably, yes. Just asking the question, “do I have Asperger’s?” is a strong indicator you’re on the autistic spectrum in our opinion. You’ve obviously done some reading or been talking to people about it already. You’ve probably identified some typical autistic traits in your own behaviour (or you wouldn’t be asking the question). You might have read blog posts and articles by diagnosed aspies, and found yourself thinking… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s sydrome, autism, diagnosis, labels

Dear Teachers…
19th November 2014
Some years ago, I entrusted my only son, my firstborn and my friend, to another woman. Let’s call her Mrs D. She was the first teacher I had encountered as a parent, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew teachers deserved respect, and I determined I would not be a “problem parent” like my mother. I would let Mrs D get on with her job without interfering. [read more]
Tags: autism, education, diagnosis, education, interaction, self-confidence

Meltdowns and Tantrums: know the difference
13th March 2014
I am vexed at how the word “meltdown” is being slowly hijacked by the general population, and used to describe someone having a massive tantrum. Let’s be clear right from the start: an autistic meltdown is not a tantrum. Not even remotely. Not ever. [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, coping strategies, friendship, interaction, meltdowns, sensory, symptoms

Bullying, Abuse, and Autism: a survey
9th January 2014
Many autistic people experience some kind of bullying and abuse during their lifetimes. We have compiled a survey, on Survey Monkey, to explore these experiences in more detail. If you are autistic, or think you might be autistic, we’d be very grateful if you would take five minutes to look at it (10 questions) to let us know about your own experiences. None of the answers you give with identify you in any way, and your anonymity is guaranteed… [read more]
Tags: abuse, autism, awareness, bullying, counselling, research

Autism & Counselling Poll – Results
4th October 2013
Huge thanks to everyone who took part in the Autism & Counselling straw poll (it’s still open if you haven’t voted!). I initially had the idea whilst preparing an essay on research methods (and I wanted to how the results of such a poll varied with sample size), and chose ‘autism and counselling’ as it is a subject close to my heart: after 111 responses, 77% of us have accessed some form of counselling at some time… [read more]
Tags: autism, awareness, counselling, research

Autism & Counselling: a straw poll
14th September 2013
In an effort to get some idea of whether autistic people access (either private or publicly funded) counselling or not, please take a moment to answer the question in the sidebar to the right. Thank you! … [read more]
Tags: autism, awareness, counselling, research

The Aspie Guide to Surviving a Family Christmas
15th December 2012
Christmas is an intense time, even for neurotypical people, and it can be so much harder for autistic people, especially if you are undiagnosed or your family do not accept your diagnosis. There is more social pressure at Christmas, than at any other time of year, to “do the right thing”, and you might feel your own needs are being lost in the tidal wave of traditional expectations… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, coping strategies, interaction, meltdowns, organisation, sensory

Assaulted by the Detail?
5th December 2012
I was sitting in a meeting, on the first floor of one of a local autism-charity’s support centres, considering that particular room’s suitability for people with sensory difficulties, when my aspie colleague observed how bright the glare from the window was. I couldn’t help adding that the sun’s reflections off passing traffic sent sequential flashes of light across the walls and ceiling. Our neurotypical colleagues smiled, shook their heads, and admitted they hadn’t noticed these details… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, interaction, sensory

What’s Wrong with Labels?
24th November 2012
People can’t help but label other people. Our fundamental labels of “friend” or “foe” are essential to basic survival, and the rest lead on from there. Subconsiously, we are asking ourselves “is this person going to hurt me?” or “is this person someone I want to become acquainted with?” or “is this person a potential partner?” In order to answer these questions, and calculate the potential threat-levels posed by other people (on all kinds of levels)… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, education, labels, symptoms

Why Don’t You Take More Care?
12th November 2012
My sister says it was always me who knocked over my coke in the Wimpy when we were kids. I remember exasperated cries of “it would be you” and “not again” and “why don’t you take more care?” But I never knew the answers. Over the years, I developed strategies to avoid knocking over my drink, but it still happens. It seems I was born clumsy, and there’s only so much… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, coping strategies, sensory

Think You Might Have Asperger’s Syndrome?

A Mild Form of Autism?
3rd November 2012
“I’m not saying there is no severe form of autism, just that there is nothing mild about having Asperger’s.” This tweet was prompted by an incident at an autism-awareness event last month. Towards the end of proceedings, I spoke to the assembled company about Asperger’s syndrome being a hidden disability, and how my already considerable difficulties were worsened by society’s expectations of normality… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, education, symptoms

It’s No Excuse
29th October 2012
excuse noun /iks-kūz’/ 1. A plea offered in extenuation or explanation, in order to avoid punishment. 2. Pardon or forgiveness. 3. Indulgence. ORIGIN: Latin excusare, from ex from, and causa, a cause or accusation.
Excuses are emotionally charged things, in search of absolution. They are what we offer when we’re trying to “get away with” not doing something we know we should have done… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, bullying, education

Detailing the Big Picture
24th October 2012
This morning I did well. The small girl’s tooth is hurting, and I needed to tell her teacher about it. Okay, here’s the backstory: many of the small girl’s baby teeth came through calcified, meaning the top layer of hard enamel is soft in places (like chalk), and wears away easily. The upshot is, regardless of how much care she takes of them, her baby teeth (particularly the molars) are rotting before they fall out… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, coping strategies, interaction, symptoms

On Being an Autistic 3-year-old
12th October 2012
My first school photograph sits on the bookcase in my study. I say “school”, but it was nursery school and I was just a few weeks past my third birthday. “Awww,” you might have said, or maybe “ahhh.” How cute!
 But you’re not saying that, are you? Because you can see the picture, rather than just imagine it. You’re probably saying, “Oh…” … [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, memory

27th September 2012
You know that vacant look people have when you tell them you have Asperger’s syndrome? The look so very vacant that even an aspie can read it? Why do we tell people about our autism in the first place? In my case, it’s because I want them to understand me better; I loathe being judged as difficult or callous or intolerant – when actually I’m making a pretty good job of coping… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, coping strategies, education

The Naming of Toys
2nd July 2012
When I was a kid, my mother bred siamese cats. The queens were given classical Greek names, like Electra, Athene and Antigone. When Athene was done over by the local tom cat, and seven little black kittens appeared soon after, it was decided I could keep one. You might think I’d wanted to call her Blacky, but no. Too abstract… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, Literal, memory

Coping Stategies
22nd June 2012
I am planning a series of posts detailing coping strategies that work for me. I know they work for others, and they might work for you (or your favourite aspie) too. I’ll be looking at the usual aspie-related issues, starting with task management, but let me know if there’s a particular topic you would like to see covered… [leave a comment]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, coping strategies

One Giant Leap
20th May 2012
I was thirty years old, and had done a lot of walking in the past, but standing at the start of the Coire an t-Sneachda path, facing the true wildness of the Cairngorm mountains for the first time, my confidence deserted me. This was big. This was serious. And like a frightened rabbit, I Couldn’t Do It. In the ranger station, the log sheet recorded routes of those who had braved the tops that day… [read more]
Tags: self-confidence

What Colour is Monday?
7th April 2012
According to Twitter, Monday is: red, yellow, blue, brown, aquamarine, gray, pink, the colours of each letter the word contains (black, white, blue, orange, red, yellow), bigger than Tuesday, male, and “I have no idea what you’re talking about”. Welcome to my world! … [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, sensory, symptoms, synesthesia

Smarties: How do you Eat Yours?
31st March 2012
The girls’ school PTA handed out tubes of Smarties last week with the invitation to “eat the contents, then return the tube filled with 20ps.” They’ve worked out that each tube holds £9.60 in 20p pieces, so ten-out-of-ten for the fundraising idea! “Ooh, Smarties!” I said (being a lover all chocolate). “Can I have a tube?” “Only if you promise to fill it up with 20ps.” I duly promised, and was handed a tube… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, organisation

27th March 2012
Although I did a bit of bouldering as a student, I didn’t take up climbing again until 2010, and I wish I’d come back to it sooner – it has turned out to be so good for me and my inner aspie in so many ways. Coordination:
I can sew (apparently unusual for an aspie), and I can parallel park in the tiniest space, but I’m incapable of negotiating a doorway without sustaining injury; I have bruises on every limb, and no idea where they came from… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, climbing, coffee, dreams, sensory

The Ten Stages of a Forgotten Cup of Tea
15th March 2012
You decide to have a cup of tea, but later on you find…
1. You forgot to fill the kettle. 2. You filled the kettle, but forgot to switch it on. 3. You remembered to switch it on, but it was still unplugged from the last time. 4. You managed to boil the kettle (twice), but forgot to get the cup or tea bag out. 5. You reboiled the kettle (three times), remembered the cup, and a tea bag, but didn’t get as far as actually adding any water… [read more]
Tags: a nice cup of tea, asperger’s syndrome, memory, organisation

A-Z of Autism
14th March 2012
A is for Autism, Asperger’s, Aspies, Ability, Attwood, Acceptance. B is for Bullying. C is for Clumsiness, Communication, Colour, Crowds, Confusion, Claustrophobia. D is for Detail, Diagnosis, Doctors, Depression, Disability, Distress. E is for Education, Employment. F is for Focus, Fascination, Friends. G is for Genetics. H is for Humiliation, Honesty, Headphones, Humour… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, bullying, education, meltdowns, memory, organisation, sensory

Autism Awareness: a Datum
9th March 2012
So I decided, if I am to raise awareness of autism, it would be useful to know what the datum is. I realised it’s all very well talking to other aspies, parents of autistic children, professional care-workers, and others in the know – but if I wanted to know the level of awareness amongst the general population, I also needed to talk to the man on the street… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, education

Where Society Meets Autism
6th March 2012
I know this sounds weary, but I am tired of always being the one who has to adapt to any given situation. Because, although people are generally kind and tolerant of those with disabilities, most people don’t even know I have a disability (see previous post). Even when they do, they make no allowances; they still touch me on the arm, joke with me, and expect me to put up with the most god-awful environment without a murmur of dissent… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness, education

So, Did You Grow Out of It?
28th February 2012
I have, seriously, been asked this question. We were talking about The Social Network, and commenting on Mark Zuckerberg’s various aspie-type traits. I’d mentioned how I’d been “just like him” when I was younger (only without the genius), and that’s when my friend said, “So, did you grow out of it?” At the time, I just muttered, “no.” I didn’t know what else to say; when faced with such ignorance (however well-meaning), I was speechless… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, awareness

Living the Nightmare
24th February 2012
I am almost always trying to achieve something in dreams, and other people are ‘getting in my way’, usually physically (physically blocking me), or bureaucratically (I’m sorry, madam, you can’t do that), or a combination of the two. Dreamworld expectations are always realistic and reasonable – like I just need to get through a barrier to retrieve my rucksack (I never know how I come to be on the wrong side of the barrier)… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, bullying, dreams, meltdowns

Finally, it All Added Up
19th February 2012
I didn’t do well at school, and I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. It wasn’t until after my diagnosis (at the age of forty), whilst reading the list of suggested professions in Tony Attwood’s The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, that I finally realised what I could have been. I wished someone had suggested [I’ll tell you in a minute] when I was thirteen… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, bullying, coffee, education

Why a Good Friend is Like a Good Cup of Coffee
9th February 2011
Having been brought up on a diet of instant coffee and bullies, I disliked both coffee and people. There was never any point giving either of them a second chance; why bother when you know you’re going to hate the experience? Besides, before I could ever try (or retry) anything new, I had to understand how it worked… in meticulous detail, and neither coffee nor people seemed worth the effort… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, bullying, coffee, friendship

Education. Education. Education.
12th January 2011
My Asperger’s diagnosis has brought many issues to the fore, not least my pitiful state of education. Despite my love affair with learning, I have only the barest formal qualifications. I try not to be bitter about the delay in my diagnosis and that I received no support at school, either educationally, or pastorally: it’s hard to study when the girl behind is flicking Tip-Ex in your hair (again) and… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, bullying, education

Hello, my name’s Leigh, and I’m an…
8th December 2010
I’m an Aspie. There, I said it. It was on the 16th November 2010, at 1.05pm, when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. I cried. It was a life-changing moment, but also a (albeit, harrowing) confirmation of a long-held suspicion, and not a surprise. It has been a surprise for many others, though – those who don’t know me. “Well, it is a spectrum,” they say. “You obviously don’t have it very badly.” They wouldn’t last five minutes inside my head… [read more]
Tags: asperger’s syndrome, autism, bullying, education