I’ve been asked this question, and I thought it could make a semi-decent blog post; “From your perspective as an Autistic people, what would you like to change?” lead to a conversation about pet peeves.

“You suffer from Aspergers..”

In one respect, I can understand this; from my perspective, I can be highly anxious (though I have no diagnosis for Anxiety), and I do not know how to talk to people-be it initiating conversation, making friends. But: I suffered people who did not understand me, and were wishing to be a bit of a bully at times. Not the fault of my Aspergers.

“Ever thought of curing yourself?”

Well, I have wondered what it would be like to be “normal”. I even wrote about it in a post called “The Wish”. But the implication here was is that I should be cured. Which I would not do if ever given the chance. Why? Read this. 

“I feel sorry for you.”

Why? I think having Aspergers is pretty cool with some assets not considered ‘normal’-enough so that I even wrote a manifesto about it. Don’t pity me.

“All Autistic people are weird.”

Oh, love a stereotype!  This is not weirdness; it’s originality. A square peg in a round hole. And it has such a good use!

“You lack empathy”

* Claps hands slowly in a mocking way”. The thing with empathy is that there are two sorts, I think; divide them into actions and words. I would like to think that my actions demonstrate my empathy for people, as I’m not very communicative.

“You’re so obsessional”

I have a problem with this-enough so that I may follow up in another post. But there’s a ‘double standard’ here; if a neurotypical person has an interest/hobby, it is viewed as normal. Person on spectrum? Yes, they are ostensibly obsessional. But why be derisory when it is a hobby to them, and possibly essential to their wellbeing?

“Can’t you let it go!?”

No. No. No. No. No. Not at all.

“Stop talking!”

I ramble. We know this to be true. If it’s on a topic I know about, I wish to share the amount of stuff that is going on inside my head-facts, opinion, research. But please be polite-there is no need to snap.

“You’re not listening because you’re not looking at me.”

I went into this with a post called “The eye contact problem”; it bugs me how this is still the line of thinking in some circles. But you do not listen with your eyes; rather, I can see a stereotype that makes me feel uncomfortable.

In my notebook, I have a three word observation: “Culture of interruption”.

This was after I had gone to an Opticians, wishing for my ill-fitting glasses to be adjusted. They had been causing me pain, and often slid down my nose, obstructing my vision. The conversation went something like this:

“These glasses are causing me pain above my right..”

“We can fix that for you”

“Ear, and the lenses are pulling the frame down..”

“We can fix that for you”

“..Obstructing my vision.”

Before I continue, I would like to say, lest you think me a hypocrite, that I am guilty of interruption; however, this post is not about the interruption itself, but the politics behind it.
Prior to the beginning of this year, I read The Vanity Fair Dairies by Tina Brown. One of the things that struck me most about this book is that the diary was written in a time when technology was speeding everything up: they had the fax, people, a fax! As a brand new invention, this meant technology allowed quicker communication.
I think that the effects of this are still around today; culturally, there seems to be interruption. Technology may be integrated with everything-from schools with smartboards, to laptops for note taking-yet this has, to me, meant technology has had an impact on communication.
For instance, it’s not uncommon for me to talk to someone, who isn’t aware I’m trying to engage; they have their eyes glued to a smartphone screen. At a trip to the London aquarium, the amount of people invading the personal space of others for a selfie was sky-high. In making phone calls for a story, the person on the other line was rapidly holding their end of the conversation. (“Where are you calling from? “..I am a trainee journalist..”)
I am not the best communicator. At all. I often find it hard to communicate what I think; politeness, being diplomatic, etc was impressed upon me from a very early age. It’s also tied up with other issues I have.
But: this cultural intteruption-where we have speed up in time, seemingly, due to technology, makes it so much harder for me. (Ironic, no, being a Blogger?) I appreciate that people have to get results, and fast: yet there are people on the other side of this. We have feelings. We have thoughts.
It sometimes makes me feel isolated; being slow on the uptake of a joke in a quick-fire convo, not understanding a witty rapid sarcastic remark. I also feel stupid, in not being able to stand up to a weight of a conversation. I often feel like walking away, to be by myself.
I think, overall, I prefer to observe people; whilst at a conference recently, Editor after Editor reminded all of us that it is important to remember that there are people in stories-they have feelings, too. Their point was to be sensitive, empathetic, and patient.

Lydia XO

 
 

One thing that I have (sometimes) been criticised for is my punctuality. So: as part of documenting my Aspergers, I thought that this would be a worthwhile issue to document.
Aspergers, for me, has meant that I need a routine. Part of what I liked about being in state-mandated education was the timetable; you knew where you where, what you would be doing-and what was needed to have been done, be it homework, revision, etc. Later on, when college had free periods, this was harder to contend with-but it was still regulated enough for me.
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As I have said so before, I have a lot of thoughts going round inside my head at any given time.
So: here are 50 thoughts about being on the Autism spectrum.

  1. *On diagnosis* “Wasn’t it obvious?”
  2. “Don’t stop me now!!”
  3. “I don’t like myself very much today.”
  4. “I wish I was normal.”
  5. “This feels so powerful.”
  6. “Please, noise, STOPPP!”
  7. *Realisation* “It’s in the tone, not the words!”
  8. *Rocking as a form of stimming* “I feel better now”
  9. *Thinks about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, on par with a special interest*
  10. “Just because I have special interests, it does not mean I am less of a person”
  11. “And just because I’m on spectrum, it does not mean I am less of a person”
  12. “No, your ‘intentions’ are not clear to me”
  13. “Yes, I KNOW I have an odd voice”
  14. “Yes, it was the one I was born with”
  15. *Sighs* “Yep, heard this joke before. It gets old quickly”.
  16. “Yes, I like being on Spectrum. I just dislike your intolerance.”
  17. “No, I am not cold, and I am not weird”
  18. “What is normal anyway?”
  19. “Screw normal!”
  20. “No, I will not conform.”
  21. “Why do you talk about boys so much? Can’t we talk about something else?”
  22. “What does your expression mean?”
  23. *Laughs* “Yes, be very scared when I can quote Sylvia Plath poetry at you!”
  24. “Yes, I have an odd laugh. Can’t we get over it?”
  25. “I don’t lie your tone.”
  26. “I don’t understand your tone.”
  27. “Be more SPECIFIC IN ASKING ME QUESTIONS!”
  28. “If I say I do not understand, do not just repeat the exact same words. It is SO UNHELPFUL!”
  29. “No, I am not the moron you make me out to be”
  30. “I have feelings too, you know.”
  31. “I’m also human.”
  32. “Do not use Autism as an insulting slur! How dare you!”
  33. “Never underestimate the things that we can do.”
  34. “You may think I am naive, but I am idealistic; at least I have not lost hope.”
  35. “I can do this”
  36. “What you are asking me to do is stupid. And reckless. I won’t do it.”
  37. *Asks inane questions*
  38. “You constantly praise my organisation, yet mock me… hmmm..”
  39. “I don’t know what is appropriate in this situation.”
  40. “Nope, still don’t know what to do.”
  41. “If people with Autism are an asset, why are we among the group who are the least employed?”
  42. “Why normalise us?”
  43. “Because, in essence, you are shooting yourself in the foot.”
  44. “I know you are wrong, but I’m not sure how to put this ti you without a negative reaction”
  45. *Wishes to be away in my bedroom with a book*
  46. “I wish I had a true friend”
  47. “Why is it that I apparently have to conform?”
  48. “I won’t.”
  49. “Ever”
  50. “No one on spectrum should ever have to apologise for being on spectrum, and for their characteristics.”

*You can buy the keyboard mentioned in this post here.* 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately-about being on spectrum, and the impact of technology. There’s a sort of correlation, even a relationship between the two.

You see: one of the stereotypes frequently levelled at me for having Aspergers is that I’m “good with technology”, or that I should probably be “good at science and or/maths”. (The latter I’m not at all good at. You could probably say that I’m good with technology-I’ve set up this blog, I know how to create a film… )
But… I like technology fundamentally, as it enables me to communicate more openly. I can talk with ease to people on Twitter, find my stories, create content for this website, network, and submit copy for publication. It removes the worry surrounding social situations for me.

Sometimes, though, I feel that technology is not used in the right way.
A story was circulating a little while ago, about the creation of a Robot to help people on Spectrum at work. This was supposedly to help them develop better skills, i.e socially-but it forced them to make eye contact. (Not helpful.) I don’t like the use of this technology-as I feel people with Aspergers/Autism should not have to be ‘normalised.’
There’s also technology used to spread fake stories, incite hate… I don’t like that.

What I like, though, is when technology is seemingly designed with the user in mind.
I use a MacBook Air, an iPhone, and the Keyboard shown in the pictures in this post.
Designed by Penclic, this keyboard can be paired with a tablet, or a desktop, via Bluetooth; it’s really easy! Once connected, the keyboard is a pleasure to type on. It’s also really easy to take on a commute. (It was also featured in a gift guide over on Criddle Me This.)
Technology has enabled me to communicate a lot better than I usually would; it has allowed me to make friends, get published, network, find stories. When it is designed for the user, technology is a wonderful thing.

If you are on spectrum, what are your thoughts?


Disclaimer: I received the keyboard featured in the post at my own request, in exchange for a series of posts. You can purchase it here. However, the views in this post are my own.