Exams, Coursework, and Work Experience

Product design coursework. That’s either running out of time or overdue for the internal deadline. I have no idea now. Next week I have pretty solidly exams, which due to recent events as you guys surely know about, has led to me not getting much revision at all done. (Genuinely, the revision that I have managed to do so far is negligible). I’ll have to cram essentially non-stop revising into the weekend, and take no breaks at all.

Then in two weeks time, god how much I’d like a rest, but no, I don’t get that. Instead, I get rewarded with damned work experience. I’ve managed to get into an architects practice with my work experience, which is good as I do want to be an architect, however I’m going to probably be consistently on the verge of meltdowns and/or shutdowns, and it’s going to be a completely alien environment to me. A workplace, a place I’ve never been to before, in an area of the city which I’ve never been to before, around people I’ve never met (in person) before. If it wasn’t an architects practice, I think just the thought of it would destroy me. Aside from what is coming up, not too much has happened this week. EPQ which I was dreading was pretty good. Maths, eh, it didn’t really happen this week so I don’t know where I am with it. Physics was actually good this week. We didn’t have to do any ridiculous estimations so that was nice.

I guess I can always look on the bright side, I’ll never have another English lesson in my life.

Back to Sixth Form

To any of the few people reading my blog, I do apologise I missed Fridays post, very little actually happened, and I just didn’t get round to writing it.

Into the future though, tomorrow I will be back at Sixth Form, the busy noisy school corridors, and music choices that could make you cringe (in both meaning and quality) blasted at full volume in the common room. I don’t know how I will handle going back exactly. I haven’t told anyone at school about my recent loss, not even a slight hint, but some bit deep down in me thinks that perhaps I should tell someone. The problem however is who? There aren’t people that I really trust. I mean, sure I can trust some people, but not to the extent I can offload any of my real problems on them. I only managed to talk to my parents properly about a real problem for about the first time in my life. I’m just not built to talk to people, my past proves that. I’ve gone through intense suicidal thoughts day after day for extensive periods of time and not told anyone.

I do expect I will have to tell at least some of my teachers though. I haven’t got as much work as I’d liked to have got done, especially on the EPQ, I’m sort of torn between telling them and not though, as supposedly this would be the reason I didn’t get the work done, but it could just be I’ve been a bit lazy, unrelated to my grief. Additionally, how do I actually tell them? There seems to be no appropriate conversation structure which can be had with a teacher over the subject, and very few appropriate structures to talk about it to anyone. If I had my way I’d probably just say it in a simple one line sentence, they’d respond “Oh, Okay” and that’d be that. Instead they’d undoubtedly go “I feel so sorry for you” or “Why didn’t you tell anyone sooner?” or “How do you feel?”. God, that last one, “How do you feel?”, its a phrase with the most kind intentions, but in reality seems anything but. Plus, more on the point, how do I actually feel? Well, these clothes are quite comfy, but they’re not asking about that, are they? Err…I don’t feel good? No they’re looking for an emotion, something more specific than “not good”. Its obvious I wouldn’t feel good…but how do I actually feel? Well, I don’t know. I couldn’t say that to them though, could I? I’d seem like the biggest fool around, how could someone not know what they were feeling? The result of that question would probably be that I’d feel 20 times worse, I’d have been thrown into the most uncomfortable social situation, without any honest, or dishonest response that fits. Worst of all, I’d have thrown myself in there. I couldn’t blame them for asking that. Neurotypical people for some reason need questions like that, but that is torturous for me. Really, I need a dummy’s guide to these situations.

Anyway, wish me look on my first day back to sixth form, hopefully only a couple of things will go terribly wrong.

Internal Conflicts

I’ve found myself in much more conflict in these past few days. Its a bit unusual though, well, far more then a bit. As I mentioned previously, I’ve got the two figures inside me. Lately with all this turmoil I’ve been able to learn about myself more, perhaps in correlation to one change I’ve been noticing more. The second figure, both my shield from the outside world and what allows me to appear normal, has been dispersing slowly into nothingness. Its still there, still quite strong at the moment, but it is weaker.

I’d say its the more direct explanation which sums up the effects of the regression I’m passing into. I should look to this change with dread and fear, I will undoubtedly become yet more of a social outcast, I will be less tolerant and will struggle to communicate yet even more. I do fear this change, quite a bit, but dread. I have no dread of it, slightly more an eager excitement and enthusiasm. I guess it might be the sort of mix of emotions someone going up to collect a big award might feel. They don’t want to mess up and look all silly, but they’re so excited to get this recognition of their achievements. I would estimate they would also feel similar emotions, although I could also be completely wrong. This is a best guess at my emotions, and they’re running on far many levels than I can understand.

On to the more observable signs though. Dyspraxia, that I believe is coming along. I cannot recall if I’ve had it before. I’ve always had a slightly odd way of doing everything, emptying the dishwasher, walking, sitting down. I can assume that they’re the leftovers of a dyspraxia from when I was far far younger, and that I adapted unusual ways to move to counter it. Even holding a simple cup of tea I do in a rather unusual way, I have my hand essentially at a right angle (when viewed from above) to the handle, whereas most people continue the line of the handle. I’ve found though, for multiple tasks, my precision is slightly decreasing. Cups I have to correct my movements of to land them on a cup mat, going slightly back and forth to not get them over the edge. It will present challenges, I’ve not tried writing anything by hand lately (as haven’t had the need to) but I suspect that will be more of a challenge. I have however had other symptoms continuing to resurface. For the first time in perhaps even a decade, I’ve been finding a good few sounds distressing. In a restaurant there was rather loud conversation, and I had switched to practically constantly bouncing my leg up and down a bit, which I hadn’t noticed till someone else pointed it out at the table (although it was less comfy to keep my legs still, so I switched to bouncing the leg nearby the wall, as to not annoy anyone at the table). I also found the end of one of the toilets in the house flushing slightly distressing while I was in bed. The point where after the flush the refill sound goes more high-pitched as it comes to a finish. I had to cover my ears for that. Same goes for using the kettle at one point (although I then used it the next day without struggle).

I’ve also started to open up to my parents a bit more. From essentially my earliest memories, I never shared real problems. Sure, I got bullied in primary school, and told parents and teachers about it, and don’t get me wrong, bullying is a serious problem, but the real problems to my head, the problems inside of me. I’ve never told anyone about those (at least, without using an anonymous pseudonym on the internet). One “bunch” of memories I have from when I was young, and there are quite a few of them, but they are so similar, essentially repeats of a couple of scenarios and thoughts, are those of where I wanted to kill myself. I can’t give an accurate age or even the time of year these occurred in, potentially they even lasted across multiple years, I had very little perception of time (just like of distance and speed). I know I was young. I believe it may have been around when I was 6, I know when I had these thoughts, I had no knowledge of suicide. I was simply thinking of “killing myself” (of which I’d devised many means in my head, including jumping from heights, stabbing myself with a kitchen knife, much like the ritual suicide of Japanese samurai’s) or of running away or being killed by some party of which I had no control over and no knowledge of (for example I’d had a dream that some shadowy figure smashed through my window and then just stabbed me, I woke up feeling quite cold and empty and alone), the only reason I didn’t kill myself in the end is I’m to caring (and please, don’t take that the wrong way, I’m just not good at tip-toeing around the subject) – I knew that killing myself would end the chance of me suffering ever again, however I would just be dumping that suffering (and more) onto my family, and any friends I may have had. I haven’t had any thoughts of killing myself recently, but these new conflicts are as major as that one. These new conflicts aren’t like the internal suicide conflict. Its in some ways I suppose the inverse. Rather than my autism being the problem factor, its in some ways a bit of the solution. The second (“socially acceptable”) figure in me allows me to fit in, and allows me to avert a lot of ostracising and exclusion, however it comes at a cost. I don’t get to be me. I’m essentially acting my way through life, and I accept that sometimes I will have to act, as strangers won’t understand how my head works, but acting all the time. It can be incredibly draining, both physically and mentally. I didn’t know I was doing it a lot of the time either, that is just how good I’d got at pretending. I had managed to even fool myself for a while.

If I hadn’t begun to regress due to recent events, I wouldn’t have been able to even begun to properly understand that. I know, society doesn’t appreciate any joy or positivity coming out of death, and I do feel slightly bad about it myself, I do have negative feelings about my granddads death as well, however I cannot deny the facts that something good has happened. I feel I need to embrace it more, however scary and hard that may be. I have begun that, by opening up just a bit (seriously, only a really tiny bit), to my parents. I talked to my dad about just a few of the things I’m going through and have went through. I haven’t gone so deep that I’m even near talking about my previous suicidal thoughts. I think I’ll need to help him understand me more before I can even get close to that subject, and I need to be a bit less of a coward before I can muster up the strength to talk about that, but hopefully one day I will get to that. I had managed to talk to him about my findings on the internet about some of the symptoms my grief may present, and that I had already suspected I suffered from anxiety. It was incredibly hard for me to gather the strength and confidence to actually say it to him. In my head, I can just walk into a room and say the stuff, then walk out, but in reality, I went to him, past him, found some activity (e.g. getting a glass of water) to explain my travel across the house, then back upstairs. I did that about 2 or 3 times before I had managed to stop and say to him, “Can I have a talk with you?”. In my mind I was shaking, I wanted to scream and run back to my room, lock myself in and not share any of it with anyone. These were my problems. I knew however, from the many times people have said it, “A problem shared is a problem halved”. I’m not sure either of my parents fully understand what I had meant in the talk, but hopefully I’ll be able to gain the strength to talk to them again, and help them understand further. I know that I need to keep doing this, it is the only way I can get help. I’m hoping at some point I might be able to see a doctor about my anxiety issues, I’m not sure if I had just general anxiety, or something such as social anxiety, or a combination of different ones, as I’m not a medical professional, but I do feel that at some point I should see a doctor about it. If they deem that its severe enough to warrant treatment with medication for anxiety, I’ll take the medication. Anxiety is one of the mental conditions I do believe can be, and should be treated (unlike autism which I don’t see to be either a disorder nor a disease, and therefore shouldn’t be treated). Hopefully then my life will slowly begin to actually improve for the better.

On Another (foot)note…”Autism Epidemics”:

I’ve been reading more about autism and similar things a lot more recently. In the past I’ve actually been quite naive to what it really is, and how society handles autism. I’ve also read many places who say they’re working to “cure autism” and places which say there is an “epidemic” of autism, most notably promoted by “Cure Autism Now” and “Autism Speaks” which I do believe merged together at some point. I have a simple message to present to them, and other people who believes autism should be cured or prevented:

We are people, just like you. Before any of you even donate another single dollar, pound, euro or rupee to a cause promoting curing autism or preventing it, ask yourself this. Why shouldn’t we cure you “normal people”? You struggle to be alone, NASA and numerous other space agencies have proven that people will struggle in deep space travel and on other planets because they need to interact with large groups of people. Us people with autism don’t need that? Considering the supposed next age in technological development is space travel, aren’t we evolved better for that age than the rest of you? What problem does autism actually cause, and I’m not asking for a problem society causes for people with autism, I’m asking for a problem autism causes. I can think of just one, that we naturally have a slightly warped perception of danger. Alright, teach us then what dangers are? Why do you need to change who we are to teach us that running in front of a moving car is dangerous?

The problem isn’t autism, its that society can’t accept autism.

Society is more inflexible than autism. We’ve seen it everywhere. Racism, feminism, classism, ageism, homosexual discrimination, ableism, and discrimination against those with autism. Also, yes, I did separate ableism from discrimination against autistic people. There are conditions which do make people disabled in one way or another, motor neuron disease for example. People with that undoubtedly have suffered from ableism before, however even a disabled person can do great things, Steven Hawking is arguable the most well known living scientist. He has made great contributions to the field of physics, regardless of his disability. I don’t even consider autism as a disability, yes, it can present symptoms which are themselves disabilities and can in cases need help to be given to the affected individual, which itself may appear like the help an actually disabled person needs, but autism itself is not a disability. It is part of our personality.

I expect if anyone does read this, one of the responses will be, “but your high functioning, you have Asperger’s Syndrome so can’t represent all autistic people”. I would respond with a couple of points. Firstly, I am trying to in some regard represent as many autistic people as I can, yes I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but that does not mean I do not have autism. Secondly, the fact I am higher-functioning than some with autism is in itself more irrelevant then the fact I’m male and white. The fact I’m male and white allowed me to be more easily identified as autistic, as there is a bias in peoples heads that an autistic person has those two traits. Within the large group of people across the world who have autism, there are ones who are high functioning and low functioning, just like neurotypical people. There have been completely normal, yet ridiculously intelligent people. Most leaders are less qualified to represent there countries than an autistic person is qualified to represent autistic people. Leaders live in a totally isolated bubble of being cared for and having all their needs satisfied for them, whereas I have experienced the ridicule, language delays, communication challenges, pronunciation difficulties, dyspraxia, differing type of memory, hyper and hypo sensitivity, the list could go on. In a way, it might be easier for me if I was low-functioning. I’d have all my needs catered for. I would also almost undoubtedly not understand that I had been ridiculed, and would live in the bliss of ignorance. I however am not low functioning, that is a fact that I cannot change. I am though, autistic, so will try where needed and where possible to represent autistic people as best as I can.

So, when you donate that £1, $1 or that single euro, rupee etc. Ask yourself, what is the real cause your donating it too?

An Order given by Adolf Hitler, Aktion T4 (Action T4), is better than “curing” autism. At least it takes some sort of responsibility that it is killing people, and it is undoubtable that the order did kill numerous autistic people, especially those who were low functioning. I shall enter a slight tangent here momentarily. Many people campaign against abortion, even though the baby may be unborn and may not even have a brain yet. One of the reasons for abortion is that there a current incurable conditions which would actually cause suffering to the baby if it had them (which obviously, it would have been screened to see if it had these conditions before using them as a grounds for abortion), and that the suffering caused is extreme and unrelievable. The “suffering” that autistic people have is in the majority of cases able to be relieved. All it requires is society to be caring, helpful and inclusive.

Therefore, I can conclude no reason that autism need be prevented or cured. I could more confidently say that the exclusive society that has formed over many years, is what needs to be cured.

Death

I’ve decided to finally get round to starting my blog, and my first post shall revolve around a recent event in my life.

My granddads death. As of writing this I don’t know his cause of death however I was told by my parents that he did not suffer, which was greatly relieving for me. He died two days ago, my parents had went to hospital and told us the news when they returned. I had cried a bit, but nowhere as much as my family around me. In fact, I’d decided to offer to make a cup of tea for my parents instead. I have had a few waves of sadness hit me, but I haven’t been reduced to uncontrollable sobs really. I did care about my granddad and loved him lots, but really my sadness wasn’t for him. It didn’t make sense to be sad for him. He was just gone, or if heaven really does exist, he went there. I felt more sad that I wouldn’t see him again, and especially for me grandma, especially so close to Christmas. Only days before she had bought a flan sponge so that she could make what I presumed would be a slightly lighter Christmas dessert for them. On the positive side however, my Granddad had managed to muster up the strength to come round to my family’s house, which he hadn’t been able to do for a long time, which did make him very happy.

Back to the initial news being broken however. After the first sobs were over, and we went back to do our own things, I went up to my room and back to my computer. I went to research about grief. I just searched generally at first, not fully sure what my goal was. I knew a lot of things about the grieving didn’t seem to (yet?) apply to me, albeit perhaps applied more to those around me. I decided to narrow down my search. First I went for “Autism and Loss”, then “Autism and Grieving”. I then narrowed it down further to just “Asperger’s and Grieving”. There are some articles out there, but they are quite sparse, numerous of them intended for neurotypical people who knows someone with ASD. Some for parents, some for friends. I did find however a few articles which seems to apply a lot more than the rest. Some bits haven’t (yet?) applied to my, but a lot of bits have to some extent. I’ve felt a bit more proactive, and felt as if I need to do stuff a bit more. I’ve also felt more sorrow for those who are suffering as a result of the death, and had a bit of trouble sleeping. Last night when I had failed to feel even tired till after midnight, I had quite dramatic hot and cold spells. Almost instantly after pulling the quilt over, I felt hot, incredibly hot. I’d then pull it off and feel a bit chilly. Eventually through a combination of removing and replacing the quilt, along with a good long spell of satirical TV shows, I had successfully gotten to sleep.

I’d also noticed one other symptom start to kick in just this morning. Its one which I’d read on a few articles. Regression. I have quite an interesting way of communicating. I had noticed it a while back. Within myself I have two sort of “figures” (and I although it might sound like I’m saying I’m schizophrenic I’m not, but the English language is quite limited when it comes to topics like this). The first figure, is essentially the pure, raw, autistic me. I can’t recall much of my childhood before my final years of primary school (which might not sound unusual, until you realise I’m only 16 at the moment). The second I believe came about from trying to fit in (perhaps from some behavioural therapy, as I know I was diagnosed fairly early on, and know I had some therapy although I didn’t know that it was therapy, or about my autism at that point). This second “figure” allows me to self-analyse quite a bit, and can allow me in some scenarios to communicate better than I would otherwise. It was the second part to me that has noticed the start to regression. I was simply doing the dishwasher, starting with the cups and putting them on the shelf for the cups, but not all of them would fit on. I put the final cup on the glasses shelf, like I normally would, but I just felt I couldn’t leave it like that. My head was going “but the glasses shelf is for glasses, not cups!” I ended up taking all of the cups out (even the ones that were in there before I’d started emptying the dishwasher) and organised them to fit. I also ended up reorganising several of the pots and pans to fit more neatly.

I guess I will just have to see how all of this pans out for me, and how long it will last.

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