Saturday, 7 September 2013


Is it an oxymoron to want to start a social group for adult Aspies?

We're not known for our socialising, but I thought it might be useful to have some sort of self-help group where we could share experiences and just have a good old moan. One of my oldest friends has contacted me on FB and said that because of me announcing my diagnosis, she started reading up about Asperger;s in order to understand me, and realised she also has a lot of the signs. So I sent her the link to the Aspie quiz and her results were almost identical to mine - there was only a single point different. It really opened my eyes as this friend is one of the last people I would have said would have AS. When I said this, she just said "I'm a good actress". How many others of us are there out there struggling to cope, alone?

I asked my therapist if there was anything and she said no. She has been wanting to set something up but she is run off her feet.

I looked online, and still nothing.

I did find an organisation called Blackpool Tiggers which runs activities for children and young people with autism and Asperger's, but what about us oldies?

So I emailed Blackpool Tiggers and made my suggestion. Perhaps they can help, or advertise for us, or even start something themselves. I would be happy to organise it.

If there is anyone else in Blackpool or the surrounding areas with Asperger's reading this and you might like to join a self-help group, feel free to comment.

I'm thinking of starting a FB group also.

Update on the house: we went to see it on Friday. It is perfect - exactly what we need. There are only a couple of tiny snags - the garden is small and so is the dining area. But the living room is lovely and big and all the bedrooms are a good size. Often in new builds the bedrooms are tiny, but these are not. The room I'd have as my office is big too, so I can put all my crap in there, my desk/computer, bookcases, digital piano, even my treadmill, so the downstairs will be nice and uncluttered. There's a good big utility room with a back door I can put a cat flap in so the animals can go in there to sleep at night, and it has a tiled floor so if Minnie has any little accidents they are easily cleaned up!

There were two other viewers that same afternoon and when I rang the agents they said they would wait till everyone had viewed it, so if there were multiple applications, the LL would decide who got it. But I rang up this morning and so far they have only had my application, so fingers crossed!!

Friends - The Rembrandts

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Our House

We've moved about a lot in the last year or so. In June 2012 I moved out of my husband's house. The arguing was too intense and too horrible to cope with any more. We hadn't even been married two years. Undoubtedly some of that was down to my Asperger's, which we didn't know about when we married. But he has his own issues also.

I found a small house that would do as a bolt-hole for me and my girls, but it wasn't really suitable in many ways, and when the six-month initial lease ran out, I found us a much nicer house.

Unfortunately, the landlord and I did not see eye to eye on a number of issues, and five months after we moved in, he decided he had had enough of being a landlord with pesky tenants who ask for things to be fixed, such as ancient fuse boxes and non-opening downstairs windows, and put the house on the market. The first I heard of it was when as estate agent rang ME on MY mobile phone asking to arrange a viewing. I was surprised to say the least. I had already told the landlord we loved the house and assured him we were long-term tenants. Even the letting agents didn't know he had put it on the market, and they are a different branch of the same company.

Since then things have been a bit poo. I dug my heels in and refused to allow viewings. The estate agents responded by sending a couple of strange men (potential buyers) round to the house to try to arrange a viewing with me directly. I sent them away and fired off a VERY strongly worded email to the estate agents to the effect of how dare they send two strange men to my house, me, a single woman with two daughters.

The landlord responded by serving me with a Section 21 notice, giving me two months' notice. What he didn't realise, and probably still doesn't, is that the Section 21 was invalid! Ha ha! They have to be very careful with the dates and unfortunately his were out by about four days. So I didn't panic, as I knew I had plenty of time to find somewhere suitable.

I did find somewhere suitable and we were all set to move on September 20th - but the landlady pulled out! I was furious. But now I have found another house.

It is perfect, even more perfect than the other one (albeit a bit more expensive). But, looking on the agent website, it states in black no-nonsense sombre letters:

"Please note this company does not accept housing benefit applications."

Now this makes me so angry.

I have rented (except for my brief marriage) since I was twenty-two years old, so eighteen years. I have never missed a single payment. I ALWAYS, without exception, got 100% of my deposit back. I am a good tenant. I have never had any troubles with landlords - until this one.

I have Asperger's so I am not very good at getting jobs. I'm rubbish at interviews, and not good at getting on with people. So I am working as a writer and an editor for a publishing company. I can do it at home, and don't have to lay my eyes on another soul. I get paid in royalties, so I don't earn a great deal. I bump up my income with the benefits I am entitled to claim as a low-income worker - the key word there being WORKER. I do work. I work damned hard actually. But because the state allows me to top up my meagre income with Housing Benefit, I am penalised.

There are some people who do not work, who have no intention of working, and are happy to spend their entire lives living solely off benefits. I am not one of them, but I am treated as if I am, because I have to top up my income. Having to do that does not make me a bad person. If I went out to work 9-5 and left my kids in wraparound child care from 8-6, TEN hours a day, THAT would make me a bad person, in my view. Instead I have a job I can do from home, between 9 and 3, get the kids from school, work another hour between 4 and 5, and sometimes another hour later on when they are in bed.

People who make assumptions make me so angry.

Anyway, I am going to proceed as if I hadn't seen that on their website, play down the Housing Benefit and see what happens. If it is a problem, then I will explain the Asperger's situation. Who knows - maybe they will understand. Updates to come.

Our House - Madness

Sunday, 1 September 2013

One More Night

So, I have decided I am not going to argue with my husband for at least a week.

We had a major argument last weekend, and then we ended p having an argument over whether we were ready to talk about the argument.

It's just getting silly now. We live apart, by the way, but we're trying to work things out. So I asked him if he wanted to come round last night. He came, we talked. We went over the text conversation and worked out who said what that led to problems.

The biggest issue I have with him is that when we argue he tends to the dramatic; he says things like "Well, I suppose that's the end of our marriage then" or "Have a nice life!" and I'm getting really tired of being the one who says "No, I don't want that to be the end."

So this time I didn't say it, to see what would happen. He wasn't happy. Because I didn't tell him No, he assumed the answer was Yes. But the whole "ending of the marriage" thing had come from him in the first place. So I sat back and watched til he was about ready to self-destruct, then I invited him round for tea.

We talked and I told him in no uncertain terms, that the next time he says anything remotely on the lines of ending our marriage, then it would be the last time. If I want to end our marriage, I will tell him.

Of course if he REALLY wants to end it, then fine. But not if he's only doing it for histrionics.

One More Night - Maroon 5

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Get on the bus

It's funny, looking back at my life, things I used to do now have a whole new explanation.

When I was at secondary school, I collected every single bus ticket from my journeys home. And I mean, For seven years.

I kept them in a little box in my wardrobe. Sometimes I would get them out and look at them, feel the way they felt, all the same size, all the right way round, all in a row. It made me feel calm and happy.

Then they changed the design of the tickets. I was devastated.

But after the initial horror, I started collecting them too. At the end, I had seven years’ worth of bus tickets in my little box. When I started packing for university I decided it was time for a declutter and started going through all my stuff. I came across my bus ticket box and looked at it for a long time. I had a long conversation with myself, the sensible side of me saying I was never going to do anything with these bus tickets, so why was I keeping them, and the Aspie side of me going, "Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!" and "Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Finally I made the difficult decision to throw them away. It was a real wrench.

Get on the Bus - the Doodlebops

Working 9 to 5 - or not...

I'm not going to go into the story of what happened after I moved out - it's too painful. Suffice it to say, my husband proceeded to go on to live a single life once I was out of the house. I found out in March 2013 about one woman, two months later about another. We're trying to work it out but it's hard.

This blog post is about Asperger's and working.

I have always been ashamed of my work history. When I was younger the only thing I wanted was to be a music teacher. I went to university, got my degree with little fuss, and went on to teacher training. There were a few little incidents during training. One time during a lecture I felt a huge yawn come on and thought nothing of letting it out very loudly in the middle of the lecture. Everyone looked at me, and I was like "What?"

Later, the lecturer took me aside and told me off for being so rude. I was confused. I felt a yawn coming, I yawned. It didn't mean I was bored, or being rude, or trying to make some kind of statement, as he was saying. I just felt a yawn coming on. I didn't realise it was rude to yawn loudly in the middle of lecture.

Another incident involved another trainee teacher called Jane Walker. It was during my first placement and there were several of us there from the same college. I didn't particular much like this girl, but when we were assigned to do a team-teaching lesson together I just had to put up with it. But the more I worked with her, the more she annoyed me. I was sitting in the staff room one break time, just enjoying the peace and quiet. There were other people there, but I was sitting by myself, my eyes closed, trying to make a little island of peace around me. In comes Jane, sat right next to me, yapping in my ear, wanting to go over some stuff. I tried to tune her out, but she just banged on and on and on. In the end, I lost it so badly I stood up in the middle of the staff room and yelled at her, "For God's sake, will you please just shut the f*** up!"

My mentor immediately came over and all but frogmarched me into his office. I tried to explain that she just annoyed me, but he told me that in my chosen line of work I would meet many people who annoyed me, and I had to keep things together.

I know now that Aspies have a deep need for solitude at times, and now I have a diagnosis, that is something I know to ask for if I need it, but back then i didn't know what it was. All I knew was that this girl was so irritating I wanted to smack her.

I'm surprised I didn't get thrown off the course for that, but I stayed on and, amazingly, I passed. But I continued to have problems with interpersonal relationships, especially with the older pupils. It seemed the older they got, the more I struggled to get on with them. The Year 10 and 11 girls in my second placement in particular hated me. I don't know why, or what I did to antagonise them so. It must have been something.

But when I finished training, I struggled to get a job. I managed to get interviews, probably because I was young and cheap and we all got coached on how to write an application letter as an NQT, but not a job came my way.

I'm now 40, and I have never, in my entire life, managed to get a proper, permanent, full-time employed job. I've managed to get seasonal jobs, part-time jobs, temporary jobs, supply work, which I loathed, and self-employment work, but never what I would call a 'proper' job. My proudest moment came when I had done a term of work at a school teaching a Year 6 booster class and they offered me a one-year contract for the following year. Finally, someone actually WANTED to employ me. And even better, someone who actually knew me wanted to continue to employ me. But even that was only five mornings a week, and after the year was up, I was told that my contract would not be renewed, and I was strongly discouraged from applying for any other jobs that were going at the school. When I asked why, I was told "Do I have to tell you?" Um, yes - I had no idea. I thought I was doing well. I got the results, and the kids liked me. But the Aspie curse had struck again.

The longest 'job' I did doing full-time hours was as a taxi driver. In fact I did more than full-time hours, regularly working 10 hours or more, six days as week.

Right now I am working as a writer/editor/proofreader for an online publishing company. I enjoy it, but the money isn't great. Ironically, one of the things that is starting to bug me is precisely the thing I thought I would enjoy most about working from home - I never get to see other people. I do enjoy my own space, and I do enjoy my own company and a lot of the time I don't have a need to be with other people, but it's been nearly two years now.

So over the summer I applied for a job as an enrichment tutor at a local sixth form college. I offered several different courses to do with my speciality of music, and also a novel-writing course. The only one they were interested in was the novel-writing course, funnily enough. It's only an hour a week, but it gets me out of the house.

This morning was the induction session. I was nervous but also excited at the thought of meeting new people. I really made an effort. I sat with people, I talked to them, I made eye contact. I did look around the room one time and realised I was the only one hair-fiddling and swaying, so I stopped. Luckily the woman I talked to most was a chatterer so there were no awkward silences and I didn't have to work too hard to keep the conversation going. I'm quite looking forward to starting, but it would have been better if it had been more hours.

I've stopped telling people I'm applying for jobs as they get that "not again" look on their faces, and then they keep asking me if there is any news, and I have to keep telling them no. It's embarrassing. I am applying for another job as a minibus driver for an old folks' home. It's three afternoons a week so again it would get me out of the house, and I could still carry on what I'm doing now in the mornings. I left some details and they are shortlisting from what little they asked me over the phone (driving experience - yes; experience with old people - only my parents and in-laws). So, they said they'd be in touch if I make the short-list.

9 to 5 - Dolly Parton

Monday, 26 August 2013

The next step

"So, what happened next?" I hear screaming desperately across t'interweb from my hordes of rabid readers.

Well, over the next few months I researched Asperger's, became more convinced I had it and tried to work out what it would mean for our marriage.

We continued to argue . My husband threatened to throw me out on a fairly regular basis, most notably on Christmas Eve. After exhausting all the strategies in my limited capabilities to try to sort out our issues, eventually I would just shut down whenever it looked like another one was looming. The more he railed at me, the more Vulcan I became. If I didn't feel anything, it couldn't hurt me. But then the less response he got, the more angry he became. I remember one time curling up in a little ball on the sofa, with my hands over my ears so I couldn't hear him. I stayed like that till he went away in disgust.

I thought about leaving on a regular basis. Looking at houses to rent on the internet soothed me.

We tried marriage counselling. I didn't like the counsellor. I remember distinctly when I told her I thought I had Asperger's she laughed at me. Then she proceeded to talk down to me, asking me if I understood what she meant when she said xyz. Of course I did - I might be autistic, but I'm not stupid.

However, I did try to apply what she told us to do. That backfired when I got told I was applying it far too literally "As you always do." Well, how else was I supposed to apply it? If she tells us to do something, we're to do that, not something else loosely derived from it.

My husband continued to deny that I might have AS. I remember him once saying to me "You could be normal if you tried, you just can't be arsed."

In May 2012 I decided I couldn't bear it any longer. There were several incidents one after another that made me realise I could no longer live with him. He went through all the phases; pretending he didn't care, moping around like a lost puppy, and eventually, the day before I was due to move out he asked me if he got help for his anger issues, would I reconsider?

He had continued going for counselling on his own after I had said I was leaving. One thing the counsellor had suggested, presumably after he had told her I was leaving, was that maybe we could continue our relationship, but in separate houses. When he suggested this, I poo-pooed it, thinking it was a ridiculous idea. But as I gave it more thought, I thought it might actually work. We could go back to the way we were when we were still dating, before we moved in together.

We had a long talk before I moved out. I stressed that if we did this, we were still together, still in a relationship, still married - with ALL that implies, including fidelity. He seemed quite surprised - I think he thought that I was moving out so I could fool around - but he agreed.

So, in June 2012 I moved out.

Next Step - Big Time Rush

Let's start at the very beginning

In October 2011, after thirty-nine years of not feeling quite normal, I began to realise I might have Asperger's Syndrome.

Sometimes I feel normal. When I am at home in my comfort zone, with my children, I feel normal and happy.

But I hate social situations, dislike women, and I can only relate to men sexually. I used to work with a group of men, Most of them hated me for being clever and the ones that didn't, I flirted with. I don't understand people who don't say things that are not true, and not being believed frustrates me beyond all measure.

What brought me to this conclusion began this way: One night my husband and I had a massive huge argument. He had mistaken my reaction to something he had said and thought I was "being funny" with him, when in fact I wasn't. I tried to persuade him, but he refused to accept it, and his refusal to accept the truth sent me flying into a huge rage with him. I threw things at him and insulted him and screamed at him to get out and swore at him.

The second he left the room I calmed down instantly. Instantly. Because he had finally done what I wanted - left me on my own.

But I realised that this behaviour was not normal. I began looking online for some kind of anger management techniques to help me deal with my outbursts.

When I was younger I used to fly into rages. Once, when I was in my early 20s, I was working with a bunch of people who thought it was hugely funny to play practical jokes on people. This guy one time emptied a fire extinguisher all over me, while his friends dashed outside and held the door shut so I couldn't escape. When it was empty, he dropped it and laughed at me. I was so furious, I picked it up and threw it at his head with all my strength. He turned to avoid it, and it hit his back instead of his head, cracking three ribs.

Another time I almost threw a hammer at a boyfriend because he had offered to help me with something. Luckily, at the last second, something in my brain kicked in and said "YOU CANNOT THROW HAMMERS AT PEOPLE!" and I ended up throwing it at the floor instead.

The hammer incident scared me so much that I decided from that point on to seriously try to control my temper. Mostly I did. I learned breathing techniques, and took herbal remedies to stay calm.

I met my husband in November 2008 at the age of 36. We got engaged the following September, and I moved in with him in June 2010, a month before the wedding. I had never lived with anyone before, apart from my children, and it was interesting to say the least. I found it very difficult and I found myself losing my temper with him a lot.

So, in looking into anger management, I found a page which listed causes of anger outbursts. One of these was Asperger's Syndrome. I had heard of it, but all I knew about it was the character of Karla Bentham in Waterloo Road, who had frequent meltdowns. I had watched it, but not identified with her in the slightest. However, the more I read about this Asperger's Syndrome, the more I felt "This is me!" I found a link to an Aspie test, which said:

Your Aspie score: 148 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 58 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie

I went downstairs and we had a very calm talk and I told him what I suspected. He said that if that was really what I thought I should go to my GP and get a proper diagnosis.

It affects us mostly when we argue - I have frequently told my husband that I don't know "the script" - The things I say are "wrong" somehow and I don't know what it is I am SUPPOSED to say so I lapse into confused silence, which annoys him even more.

It also affects my parenting. I have two girls, aged 12 and 5. I love my children deeply but my older daughter sometimes complains that I don't show her any sympathy when she is hurt or upset. It isn't that I don't feel sympathy and feel bad for her, I just don't know what to say. And that makes me feel bad because I am making her feel bad.

The thought of having AS was scary - I didn't want to have a mental illness, but it was almost a relief at the same time - that there was a reason I am the way I am - I'm not just a callous bitch with no friends.

Let's Start At the Very Beginning (Do Re Mi) - Julie Andrews