Springingtiger's Blog

Early Hours
September 23, 2013, 04:05
Filed under: autism, disability, NLP | Tags: , , , ,


And so, once again, as so often, I am awake at half past three when I should be sleep. I actually woke a couple of hours ago, but I’ve been lying in my bed going desperately that sleep might return, As so often it has not. I suppose I might find it easier to sleep if being awake were of less concern, but I worry I will not get the sleep I need. Eventually I find myself lying in the dark desperately struggling to nod off. I play soothing music, self hypnosis CDs, “I Can Make You Sleep” oh no you bloody can’t! I have grandparenting duties in a few hours and then a break until my nightshift, and so I am desperate to sleep, and the desperation keeps me awake. I understand the mechanism, but it’s not helping.

So now I am in a “break state”. I am up, sitting downstairs with a glass of “Gold Top” – bad for my waistline, good for my soul. As yet my cat’s soothing presence has not induced sleep, but sitting here beside him, as he gently purrs is quite relaxing, now that he’s given up head butting my arm to make me fuss him. Oops, I spoke, l or rather wrote, too soon, still he’s very pleasant company. I almost said, “in the silence”, but his purring is but one of many sounds in this long night. I shall shortly return to my bed , perhaps to sleep. Ok as I’m up I’ll just have a quick look at Facebook, hopefully that may provide an antidote to insomnia.


I Can Choose My Own Friends

As I look at all the notifications from the various social networks with which I have an account, I feel increasingly as though I am trapped in some sort of cyber holiday camp where red coats, or blue coats, are determined to make me have fun whether I like it or not.
When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s they said to me that they would send me details of social groups for people with Asperger’s, to which my wife responded, “I thought that was Facebook.”  To some extent she has a point, I do prefer to interact online. If there is one thing that annoys me, as it did when I was a child, is someone telling me with whom to play. I am perfectly capable of deciding the people with whom I want to interact without someone making suggestions. I am also more than a little fed up with the stream of suggestions for pages I should like.

Yesterday I had to report a page that presented itself into my timeline without any agreement on my part. I don’t mind country music stars pages, or pages connected to some television shows, but this was an appallingly racist site purporting to be a political party. I don’t mind some advertising on Facebook in order to pay for the service, but I do resent being forced to read racist filth presented as humour by an extremist right wing group. I am not even saying these people should not be allowed to be on Facebook, but they should not be allowed onto my timeline without my being asked and agreeing.

Oh Come On Facebook!
May 14, 2013, 21:55
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Writing | Tags: ,

I used Facebook to campaign,
Now they are kicking up a fuss,
But I’m not going to complain
I can  always use Google Plus.
I contacted a lot of folk
In order to spread the word,
Seriously it is not a joke,
Facebook is often times absurd.
Should I be blamed for the amount
Of messages I choose to send?
It is, after all, my account
And I only sent them to my friends.
So I will do what I will do,
What if, of friends, I have oodles?
Facebook, that is enough from you,
Please don’t make me go to Google.

Trust Issues

That I have Asperger’s is no secret. That I have trust issues is not as readily apparent because I am always prepared to trust someone once, but once betrayed by them it may take years before I am even prepared to consider extending trust again. I have been betrayed, my personal space, my privacy has been invaded. I conceal little about myself, but I like to be the one who reveals myself. Generally I am not very worried about privacy because I have nothing to hide, but when someone else takes it upon themselves to snoop into my affairs I take exception, largely because it offends my sense of etiquette, it is grossly ill-mannered. I resent having nosey young people snooping in my personal accounts.

On the request of my manager I allowed another member of staff access to my login so that they could answer emails in the company’s inbox, it was not an entirely unreasonable request assuming, as I did, that my colleague was reasonable. Unfortunately she is not particularly bright and managed to delete all the contents of my “Sent” folder, leaving me with no record of emails sent to HR or Wages. I could let that go, people make mistakes, but then she pretended my manager had asked her to try and find the missing emails, I allowed hat back into my account. She had lied, rather than fixing her stupid mistake she went into my Facebook and posted updates. She thought she was being funny, she has not the wit to be funny. I do not consider it a joke when someone trespasses in my personal space and violated my privacy. What is totally unforgivable is her trying to pass off her banal and immature remarks as mine. Needless to say that is the last time I allow someone else to use my login. I am not always quick to forgive a hurt but I am slower to forget one.

Last night was not good, on top of having my personal space violated, my sense of order was assaulted by yet more staff changes. A company had a right to change shift patterns to meet demand, it has a right to allocate those shifts, but I do get upset when that entails moving people to whose presence I am used, particularly when they make my workplace more enjoyable. If they had asked me I could have given them a list of people to move off my shift, headed by the idiot who abused my Facebook!

Blogging From My Phone
January 27, 2013, 04:34
Filed under: social media | Tags: , , , ,

As you may be aware I have set out to blog every day of this year, and so far things are going well. Personally I prefer to write my blogs on my laptop or on a PC. Sometimes my work schedule interferes with my plans, for example one of our managers tonight has happily logged himself into all the available PCs, so no one else can use them. On occasion, at home my internet drops out and so I cannot post from my PC. It is at times like this I turn to my phone.

In essence my procedure for blogging from my phone is the same as from my PC; I first draft the blog on Google Drive and then copy and paste it to WordPress. The WordPress app on Android lacks some of the functionality of the full program, but it is very easy to use.

Typing on my Android phone is very quick and easy because I use Swype; it is too quick and easy because Swype sometimes decides to substitute its own choice of word for the one I typed. This is not a problem as long as I notice it, but when typing quickly mistakes are easily overlooked. Before I copy my text to WordPress I read it over and correct it.

When I have my text pasted into WordPress I then put in any links I want, this in much easier on a PC than on my phone, but out can be done. On the PC it is also easier to add tags, on the phone I have to you’re each one, even the ones I use often. Finally  before posting my blog, I read it over again and make my last tweaks and corrections.

Once my blog is published I read it over again and usually discover some of my corrections haven’t happened. Fortunately it is easy to edit a post on WordPress. Finally I can sit back and relax until my friends start pointing out my spelling mistakes on Facebook. A last edit and then finally, I can sit back and relax until my friends start pointing out my spelling mistakes on Facebook (this last step may be repeated several times!)

WTF R kidz up 2?

A girl is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “As a girl, it’s normal to start putting raunchy pictures on Facebook at 13, and you feel you have to live up to that.”

It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that this world in which I now live is neither the world into which I was born, nor that in which I grew up, but rather it is a strange alien place, I am a stranger in a strange land. I am reasonably sure that when I was young, girls did not publish raunchy pictures of themselves. Of course when I was young there was no Facebook and the nearest we came to pornography was the magazine Health and Efficiency with its photos of naturists holding beachballs or ping pong bats. So what is it with the raunchy pictures? Don’t get me wrong I appreciate raunch as much as anyone, but there is appropriate raunch and inappropriate raunch, and teenagers posting semi clad and suggestive photos on the internet is definitely inappropriate raunch.
While obviously humans are to blame, what has made this disturbing behaviour possible is, one the internet, and two digital photography, particularly smart phones. Last century nude photographs had to be developed either by the photographer or sent to a select few processors who would handle that sort of content without passing it to the police. There was a time when the polaroid camera was the height of technology for people wanting to take candid snaps in the bedroom and there was little facility for sharing the pictures. Now anyone can take a photo, edit it and upload it to the internet in seconds. In the old days if someone wanted to publish something they had to make an effort. it required thought and planning, but now the act of uploading is so quick and easy people have shared before thinking of the consequences. Even in the early days of mobile phones the greatest damage too much vodka could cause would be inappropriate SMS messages; now with a little drink and with little encouragement, teenagers are exposing themselves to exploitation, derision or worse.

Remember when we were told not to talk to strangers? Today’s young people are supplying their intimate details along with intimate pictures to all sorts of predatory creatures, not only to those who wish to take advantage of them but also to the sort of cruel monsters who find it amusing to drive young people to suicide. The papers repeatedly draw attention to teenagers who, unable to bear anymore cyber-bullying, have killed themselves. It is no longer realistic to assert that it was not the bullies intention to cause death, they are aware of the possible consequences of their actions, therefore it is reasonable to infer that they actively want to cause death secure in the knowledge that they will escape justice. In the light of recent events every case of cyber-bullying should be considered as criminal assault or attempted murder and where the victim dies it should not be manslaughter but always classed as premeditated murder and punished accordingly.

Apparently child trafficking has risen by over eighty percent facilitated by the internet. I think we must be aware of the dangers of the internet, but we should not overreact, the internet can be a force for good. The internet must remain free, therefore it’s abuse must be severely punished to keep it so. Getting young people to expose themselves online is sexual abuse and should be punished severely, as should all child abuse.
We are privileged to have access to the internet and we have a responsibility to use it responsibly. Access to the internet is not a basic human right, prisoners have recently been allowed access on the grounds that it is a right, it is not. There is a hierarchy of rights, some like food, water and shelter are fundamental and should be enjoyed by all. I would argue that freedom of speech should be a fundamental right. However one person’s rights cannot be allowed to deprive another of their fundamental rights. The right of a child to grow in safety, free from abuse and exploitation is a fundamental right and those who have denied children that right should not be provided with the facility to continue. Even if access to the internet were a right, the abuse of the internet can never be. It is unreasonable for someone who deprives others of a fundamental right to then demand secondary rights. A child abuser still has a right to be treated as a human being, to food and shelter, and medical care, they even have a right to respect as a human being, but there their rights stop. No one has a right to abuse children, and in “abuse” I include treating children as a possession or commodity. Children are our most precious resource, our hope for the future  and our most important people, if we fail them we will destroy ourselves.

Time? What Time?!

I really do need to get to work on my schedule, there are so many things I want to do and too many ways to lose time. One of the advantages of my paid employment is that it does allow me quite a lot of reading time, this won’t help for my online course, but it may free up non-work time for activities other than reading. I once calculated that I have a thirty six hour day based on the activities that I can do simultaneously. I travel by public transport which means I can read or watch DVDs without the need to concentrate on the road. I can listen to mp3s and music while gardening.

Because of the way I process information there are many activities I cannot do in tandem with others, I cannot listen to factual radio programs while reading, I cannot do anything while watching television. This is the area upon which I shall focus as it is here that there is the greatest danger of losing time. I don’t intend to give up television, but I shall be somewhat more discriminating, it is too easy to lose an evening watching things that are not really important. The computer is another potential time waster, especially Facebook and Twitter. I find that having Yoono running at the side of my screen allows me the occasional catch up on my feeds,. The most useful thing I have done with my networks is to link them to my Google Mail so that at the start of a session I can quickly scan for notifications that demand a response.

Of course what I really do need to do is actually organise my schedule so that the activities that matter have sufficient time allocated to them and that requires a little more planning than hitherto. I don’t have to use the time rigidly as allocated, but it is important that there is sufficient and, to me, that I have an advance awareness of how my time will be spent.

Mature Autism: The Secret of My Success

The other day on Facebook Dan Bradbury was being criticised for being too concerned with money, and it was suggested that there were better indicators of success. No one who has observed Dan with his wife and daughter could think for one moment that his primary criteria for success is money. It was during one of Dan’s conferences, largely thanks to Richard Wilkins, that I realised that the only thing that prevented me from realising my success was that I was trapped into the belief that success is measured by money and status.

According to the National Autistic Society only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are in full-time paid employment. I have been in employment for most of the last forty years, I may not be at the top of any profession, I may not be a great entrepreneur, I may not be a “go to” authority for the media when my field comes up, but I am working and being paid for it. I may technically be disabled, but I have never needed to claim any disability benefit, and only claimed unemployment for a short period in the 70s. I have done this without any formal help, although I couldn’t have done it without considerable support and tolerance, particularly from my wife and family. It may be true that with support my career path may have been different, but I have not complaints, I did it MY way.

I have been married for over thirty years to the same person. I haven’t been able to find statistics on the incidence and longevity of marriage or long-term relationship for people with autism, but my understanding is that it is an area in which a very small minority are successful in a society where, increasingly, long marriages are a thing of the past. A Guardian article in 2010 showed that not only are divorce rates climbing, but that the numbers of couples getting married is falling. By any relationship yardstick, autistic or otherwise, I consider my wife and I a success. People with Asperger’s are known to have particular problems with relationships because we lack social skills, particularly in communication, as a consequence we tend not to make friends, I have a friendship that dates back to 1972, my early days at university. I also have several people with whom I socialize and many more online friends. I may not visit people in their homes, but I do not like to be visited and I believe a level of reciprocity is involved in these things so I prefer to meet in neutral venues. I am happy with this level of interaction, and therefore count it as a success.

Educationally I have to accept that my qualifications are somewhat lower than my IQ would suggest they should be. However I made it to university without any special assistance, unfortunately I did not have the self-discipline to complete my university degree although I somehow managed to get through three very boozy years. It may be true that, with the right support, I could have made it through university with a degree, but no one knew I was autistic back then, and no one forced me to focus on alcohol and politics instead of my studies. Had I had the appropriate support I may well have been a graduate and gone through with my plan to become a Franciscan friar, but had I done so I would not now have two granddaughters without whom, I strongly suspect, the world would be a duller place! Of course, I think it’s fair to say, had I carried through my plans I would have been perfectly happy, and I admit to a pang of jealousy when my friend and confessor Father Raymond Lloyd went off to be a Franciscan hermit – Brother Ramon SSF.

Which brings me full circle. I am not a celibate hermit who spends his life in prayer. I am a grandfather, a husband and a worker, none of which prevent me spending my life in prayer, but I must admit my theology with its strictly logical foundation might horrify most believers. My life works, and a big part of my success is because I never knew I was autistic so I just had to get on with my life. My autism brought me no outside help nor did it allow me any excuse for inaction – which my natural laziness would have exploited – or for failure. My autism made me who I am, a success. My diagnosis gave me an interest that impelled me to write and make some amazing new friends. With an earlier diagnosis I may today have a success more in line with what society considers success, but I’m damn sure I wouldn’t have had half as much fun or interacted with such amazing people!

Autism Awareness: The End of The Month

So Autism Awareness Month is over and what has it done? The Autism Community has been blogging fervently for thirty days, parents have been blogging about their experiences, and so have autistics some on their own blogs and some as guests of blogs like The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. So many words written by so many people, but have they made any difference? Have all those words changed anyone’s mind? Has anyone outside the Autism Community noticed all those words, did anyone hear them, did anyone listen?

I know, personally, that I have made new contacts over the month, and I’m delighted that some of old posts have found a new audience. From feedback I have received, I know that some people have found my words useful but the feedback is largely from other autistics or their families. I am glad that we are supporting each other, and it is important that we continue to do so, and not just for one month but for all twelve for as many years as we need each other, but I wonder how much impact we are making on the wider community.

In fact we know we are reaching a wider community, Autism Awareness Month does get media coverage, and it is marked by documentaries like Louis Theroux’ Tough Love. More importantly we have a presence in the mainstream media, autistic characters are being written into more and more television dramas and the occasional comedy, autistic characters feature in mainstream movies from Hollywood to Bollywood. Even more importantly governments are beginning to notice us, some American states are specifically recognising Autism in healthcare provision, Scotland now has a national Autism Strategy with over thirteen million pounds of government funding. In all honesty the gains so far made, however magnificent, are small compared to the overall needs of the autism community, but they are a start for which we should be grateful. The campaigners who have won these gains should be proud, and we should be proud of them.

No one knows for sure who was the first autistic, but it is fifty years since the National Autistic Society was founded and in that time understanding of autism has advanced greatly and gains have been made, we still have a long way to go. I don’t know how much of a difference Autism Awareness Month makes, but I know we have not come so far that we can afford to stop now. Even if the main value of Autism Awareness Month is that it gives us strength to carry on, then it is valuable. I hope Autism Awareness Month spreads awareness of Autism to a wider community, but whatever I have enjoyed it. I have made new friends, found new blogs to read, learned new things, and from reading the posts people have shared, my respect for autistics and their families is greater than ever. Thank you everyone who made this month so special with your posts, your fund raisers, media interviews, your walks, your participation. Thank you, you make my world a better place!

Autism Awareness: My Internet

Sitting here in the early hours of the morning Internet was down and I was reflecting on how upsetting that was to me. The Internet has given me a new freedom and facility to communicate with others far beyond what I ever had before, and has given me the opportunity to socialise freely in a way to that I never could. I have always found conversing with other people a burden, I can do it, but I dislike it. I am reasonably content to listen to others as long as they are being interesting, occasionally they are. Communicating online, as I have said before and will probably say many times more, gives me the opportunity to edit my thoughts before bestowing them on others. When I am at my computer I am generally away from other distractions which also makes communicating easier; face to face interactions are too frequently conducted under circumstances where competing stimuli make meaningful exchange difficult.

I tend not to ask for help. At school I would rather sit crying at a question I could not answer than raise my hand in class and ask for help, I rarely ask for directions, hate calling tradesmen, and even where there is a formalised arrangement to request help such as with my Doctor, I prefer not to. When – last year – I posted about the problems I was having, I received a lot of support from people on line. I could never have shared my problems were it not for the Internet, and so would not have received the support I needed. Because of the Internet I don’t have to ask for directions, I have Google Maps, indeed for most of the questions I need to ask there is Google. People may raise concerns over changes to Google’s privacy policy, personally I consider it a small price to pay for what I get from them. (Yay Google!)

I socialise on Twitter, I really enjoy Twitter, 140 characters is enough for most communication and for anything longer I have my blogs. As well as allowing me to share my thoughts with others my blog allows me to understand my own thoughts as I have mentioned before. http://springingtiger.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/blogging-and-the-construction-of-thought/ Were it not that I already have family and friends on Facebook I doubt I would pay it much attention, personally I prefer Google+, possibly because the postings in my circles tend to be more interesting and far less trivial than on Facebook. Social Networking has become a way of life that works for me and that – in combination with attending my place of employment – I find perfectly satisfies my needs for social interaction. I have posted several times on aspects of social networking, indeed I have just found an earlier post on exactly this topic. At the risk of being repetitive here is that earlier post…Asperger’s Social Groups!

When I received my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome Ann Marie Gallagher made various recommendations one of which amused me, “To give details of Strathclyde Autism Societies social groups”. I laughed, my wife responded with, “Isn’t that Facebook?” On reflection I must admit I have embraced Social media as an acceptable substitute for face to face interaction. Social media give us an opportunity to exchange ideas without the discomfort of normal social interaction and allow us to communicate what matters to us and ignore the bits we find irrelevant.

I love blogging it is the place where I can organise my thoughts and turn them into expressible opinions. I am very clear that my primary purpose in blogging is to inform myself, if other people derive some benefit from my blogs it is a happy side effect. At this point I should perhaps thank those of you who have been kind enough to comment kindly on my blogs, actually I suppose I should thank every one who has commented regardless. As I have admitted recently I use blogging as a tool to recognise my own thought processes as much of the time they are amorphous and only become concrete to me when observed from the third person position. Also the process of blogging frequently stimulates recall – I have a great memory but patchy recall.

I use Twitter to share information I have found useful generally by posting a link or re-tweeting a tweet containing a link so that the original twitterer gets due credit. I use Google Reader to subscribe to several blogs – several of which are autism related – and I then pass on any links I think people will appreciate. I hope people are deriving benefit I am on several people’s lists so I think I must be doing some good. I also use Twitter to comment on life and to ask questions. I really appreciate people who tweet useful links – some perhaps for commercial reasons – people can be very generous with their time and knowledge.

My Facebook page (Rory Patton) I use primarily to interact with people I know. They are described as friends but I must admit there are few with whom I socialise. It is useful to keep up with family and the direct message facility I find very useful. I haven’t worked out how to avoid messages about games which are largely irrelevant to me. Facebook is a great place for passing on information and for campaigning. I particularly appreciate people who share their enthusiasms and have watched many YouTube videos they have posted of obscure singers, Indian dance and Mountain climbing amongst other things. There are privacy issues with Facebook at the moment – my advice is check your settings carefully.


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