Springingtiger's Blog


Alone in The Dark

I was reading a post on Squidalicious  which threw me right back into my  childhood. It also reminded me of how much of the child I was still lingers within me, both for good and ill. The post was about a child’s violent reactions and their effect on his sister, and indeed for different reasons, his mother.

Hard as it may be for some people to appreciate, in autistic people violence is frequently an involuntary response. Personally I try to avoid violence, however there is not a door in my house that does not bear the scars of my rage, and this is me in my mellow maturity, I used to have a bad temper. I don’t think words are adequate to express how I feel when I explode because it is a state where normal thought has broken down. It feels as if I am in total darkness, in reality all of my senses are taking in information, but none of it makes sense. There is a sensation people have called, “on the tip of my tongue” when some memory is eluding recall; imagine that sensation extended to all your thoughts, imagine not being able to grasp a thought or process any information, but feeling as though understanding is there, but just out of reach; frustration is an inadequate description of how I feel. There is also a strange sense of dissociation as if I am disconnected from myself, and almost a fear that I may not be able to get back to myself, it is a sensation that gradually builds into a sort of frantic desperation. I never know what will happen, I may explode, and when I do I scream, hit out and break things.

If I am lucky and manage any control, the one thing that helps me back is pain, however it must be self inflicted, touch me in any way and that may be the extra stimulus that causes the explosion, as a child my mother tried to calm my rages by holding me tight which only made me worse because I hated it. When I hurt myself the pain pulls me back into my body, I’m not a cutter, I’m a biter and, on occasion, a headbanger. I have put my fist through a plaster wall, more solid walls have caused me the occasional swollen hand. This is not self harm, it is self regulation, and necessary. The alternative looks, from the outside, like insanity, from the inside it is worse. I spent most of my life not understanding why I could suddenly descend into such terrifying loss of myself, I wish I had understood earlier so that I might have tackled my challenges from an informed position. However the comfort I can offer is that over time, and with some effort I learned to, usually, retain control.



Asperger’s Syndrome And Interviews

I have been perusing job requirements,  not yet in any great earnestness,  and it occurred to me that a person with Asperger’s might not be some employers’ first choice. Even the most ordinary job requirements can be a challenge,”a warm, empathetic and outgoing personality ” not an Aspie then! How about, ” works well on their own and as part of a team.” on one’s own is ok, but we don’t really do teams.
” . You must be flexible to work on a rotational shift pattern,” oh yeah, how many flexible Aspies can you name?  As  for the rotational shift pattern, I like to know my shifts a year in advance.
” Ability to forge strong relationships” we can do that, but rarely and we will only maintain a couple,  and they will be with people we know well.
“The ability to multi-task”  I do one thing at a time,  I consider reading on the bus multi-tasking!
“Highly motivated, personable with a friendly attitude”. The friendly attitude may prove to be a problem.
“Adaptable with a flexible approach to work” I mentioned earlier, we don’t like change.
“Excellent time management skills and ability to prioritise tasks” We do one thing at a time,  give me a list and my inclination is to start at the top and work down,  just as I read a magazine from the front cover to the back.

If we get past the application,  the interview brings further problems beginning with the handshake. I know handshakes are part of a non-negotiable social convention,  however they leave me with an awareness that I may be harbouring another person’s germs, and a desire to wash my hands that will nag me until  I can get to a washroom; this could be dealt with by using my hand sanitiser, but probably not without causing offence.

Eye contact is a major problem,  I don’t do it because it both unnerves and distracts me. One interviewer is a challenge,  an interview panel brings the prospect of overwhelm. Trying to watch several people and listen to them requires too much focus.

Whether one interviewer or several the interview presents several problems. Most people with Asperger’s cannot process non verbal language very well. There are also difficulties in processing non literal language. This puts the person with Asperger’s at a disadvantage in the interview process. Another problem  facing the Aspergian is the paralysing effect of the unfamiliar. Stress exacerbates the problems so by the time we get to interview we are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, and this, in turn,  impacts our information processing.  Many people with Asperger’s are of above average intelligence,  but unfortunately intelligence is not a defence against stress. Although it can help one prepare for the stress of the interview.

I would like social skills to be discounted when they are not essential to the work. The environment in which the interview takes place should accommodate the particular difficulties of the Aspie. The interview must be genuine, that is to say they must be conducted with a willingness to make the necessary workplace adaptations to accommodate people with Asperger’s.



Stillness in Motion

I cannot sit still, literally, my body moves constantly independently of thought or will. My body is prey to involuntary movement, I often sit and watch my muscles twitching for no particular reason of which I’m aware. We are often told to “sit still”, “don’t move”, “sit at peace” for some of its it is impossible. Some mornings I awaken to discover my leg is bouncing up and down,as it often does when I’m sitting; when I’m awake I may,by force of will, stop it, but rarely in my sleep.As well as the various twitches to which I am prone my fingers have an unfortunate tendency to insert themselves into any convenient facial orifice, for social reasons it’s good to stop them, but my mind is usually focused on other things.

Some of my movements are regulatory mechanisms to support my mental well being. When stressed my body moves more and more violently than usual. However it is fair to say out never stops moving, and most of my movements bring me comfort. I have occasional muscle spasms that can cause considerable discomfort, even periods of impaired movement, but generally I find my movements beneficial.

No one is ever entirely still because the body is always running background processes like respiration and digestion. We are unaware of many off them most of the time, yet without our awareness or wounds still heal and our nails still grow. People make of adjustments to their posture over a day without even thinking about it. The body knows what it’s doing and it knows when to move to prevent cramp or sores; my body just needs to move more.

Strangely most of the time the movement is entirely external. I feel as though I am sitting still and unmoved in the eye of a hurricane.All around me the world and my body are moving, but I am still. Amongst movement, amongst turmoil and drama, in the midst of chaos I am still.

    SPIDER

I sit
Silent,
Unmoving.
Like a spider
I have spun
My web of illusions,
Trapping the unwary
In a web of dreams.
They look,
They do not see.
They think,
They do not know.
They live in hope,
But hope,
Like all dreams,
Will die,
Like my web.
In the end,
There is only
Me



Spider

I sit
Silent,
Unmoving.
Like a spider
I have spun
My web of illusions,
Trapping the unwary
In a web of dreams.
They look,
They do not see.
They think,
They do not know.
They live in hope,
But hope,
Like all dreams,
Will die,
Like my web.
In the end,
There is only
Me



Aspergian Thoughts on Communication

Although we think more deliberately, I think we are more inclined to observe our thoughts than ordinary humans. Just as we are on the outside of society looking in, so I myself on the outside of my thoughts, scrutinizing and analyzing them. However I cannot be sure whether that is because of my Asperger’s or my religion. On reflection, as I cannot remember a time when it was not so, I shall attribute it to Asperger’s.
We enjoy, or perhaps not, a separation from the world, from common experience, from common understanding, from common humanity. In all that happens we have to find a bridge across which we can communicate. I have in the past described it as being like living in a bubble and that still occurs to me as substantially true. Interaction with humans is quite exhausting, because their language has to be translated into our language. It may appear that we speak the same language, but we understand it somewhat differently. I am perfectly capable of using idiomatic language, but I think my usage has an extra step which involves unpacking the idiom according to context and interpreting it.
There is a common misconception that we can’t recognize gestures and facial expressions. The problem is not one of recognition, but of interpretation. Gestures are quite easy, I learned about the Satir categories as part of my NLP training so I simply refer back to that. Facial expressions are more of a problem as it is quite easy to misunderstand them, particularly as so many of them are indistinguishable, I frequently have difficulty telling the difference between laughing and crying. Because it is usually impossible to separate speech from other noise I sometimes lose the context of a person’s expressions and gestures and become dissociated from the conversation to the point at which I cease to listen or respond. Fortunately most people are so interested in what they are saying they don’t notice I’ve zoned out. My wife is not readily fooled and frequently punctuates her speech with questions like, “What did I just say?” Questions like, “Do you agree?” are easier because a yes or no answer stands a fifty percent chance of being acceptable, if not right.
Some people object that we ignore them and think us rude. Rather they miss that if we do not want to talk we won’t. Sometimes there is nothing I want to say and sometimes I do not want to expend energy on listening, if I am already listening to something else, like the news, I probably can’t understand them anyway. What humans fail to realize is that silence is perfectly acceptable, there is no need, nor should there be any obligation to talk all the time. If there is nothing one wants to say, is it so wrong to say nothing? Should I choose not to speak, why should I be expected to explain my silence, why can it not just be accepted?



My Skin Crawls

Skin crawling,
Muscles aching,
Lights glaring.
Voices blaring.
Not much fun,
Need a gun.
In my defense
I’d plead silence.

My skin feels as if a billion tiny insects are crawling over it, I desperately want to scratch, but once I start, I will find it hard to stop. I do not think there is any sensation worse than this whole body itch. Pain is not as agonizing as this, my every nerve is stretched tighter than a violin string on the point of snapping. On the point of snapping is where my temper sits just now; when I describe myself as ‘irritated’, I am not speaking metaphorically. Perhaps worst of all, I am itching inside my ears where my fingers are too fat to scratch.

This itch is unfortunately accompanied by excessive photosensitivity so that my eyes are prickling and watering. I have tskem refuge behind dark glasses, but they feel heavy and uncomfortable on my nose, and they make my eyebrows itch. The best thing about them is that they keep the world out.

At a time like this my sensitivity to noise becomes almost unbearable. It sounds as if everyone is shouting whereas , in reality, they are merely speaking, and there are altogether too many people speaking. The sound of passing traffic is deafening, fortunately it is nearly midnight so the traffic density is light. The photocopier on the other side of the room is far too loud for comfort. I wish everyone would just shut up.

My joints and muscles are suffused with a constant ache which every movement transforms into severe burning stab wound, but it’s not as bad as the itching, nothing is as bad as the itching.

It is a day since I wrote the above and I have hardly slept because of the over sensitivity. The strange thing is the way my wife beside me on the bed can hardly hear the sounds and voices irritating me. It’s hard to sleep when you’re itching all over and all the places your body touches the bed actually hurt. The good thing is, as I know from experience, this will pass.



Sound and Vision

Before NaPoWriMo it would never have occurred to me to try and rhyme either Pythagarean or multidimensional, it’s not easy!

I love to see the shape of sound
That resonates and shines around
My house; and, with shapes, fills my head,
From before dawn til time for bed.
Shapes reflecting all words said;
Pythagorus has never known
Some of the structures I’ve been shown.
In a concert there may be an
Abundance of new and strange forms
Far beyond Pythagorean
Imagination, which transforms
Music merely sensational,
Into something which may be found
To be multidimensional.

It’s a different perception
Of any sounds reception
That has music, so often felt,
Be something seen and even smelt.



Through a Glass Darkly

Sometimes there is a dichotomy
Between what is there for me,
And what you know to be true;
A wall my mind can’t break through,
And a truth it cannot see.

Nothing’s wrong with my perception,
But a break with my conception.
Thus nothing makes any sense
And all is confused, so hence
Senses find no reception.

Like looking out through a glass
On worlds of another class,
Another reality,
Or an abnormality
Where unreason comes to pass.

Literally losing my mind
And the reason I would find;
Although my eyes can well see,
Mind can’t interpret for me
I might just as well be blind.

New deep thoughts form in my brain
Then to express them I strain,
I struggle, but cannot reach
The shapes that make up my speech;
And so I retreat again.



Obsession

I forgot to eat today, as I sometimes do, when my mind is on other things. Our weather has been miserable for so long, since last Spring, that many garden jobs remain undone. Today the sun came out and so I set about tackling a to do list that makes War and Peace look like a Post It note.

I decided to paint my fence, a task delayed by two wet summers, and started straight after breakfast. I had already brushed it, in the teeth of a gale, with a wire brush, some days ago, before the rain interrupted me. I finished my wire brushing and then started to paint, intending to pause for lunch. Neelam came home in the afternoon and made a cup of tea, I drank it and continued. I continued until I ground to a halt, too tired and too sore to do anything more.

It was only after all my things were away and my brushes washed that I realised I was hungry. This is not a new thing, I have always had the gift, or curse, of getting so absorbed in what I’m doing that everything else escapes me. When I am absorbed there is little point in talking to me because I cannot hear you, I am unlikely to hear anything which is strange as I tend to be oversensitive to sounds. I really don’t know how this works, it is as if my senses have an off switch. In meditation one of the goals is to withdraw the senses from their objects; who needs meditation when you can have a good book or even a paint brush and a fence.



Going Home

I quite enjoy flying when I get a window seat, but airports can be traumatic. Above all, for me there are two main danger points, queuing and security, I hate going through security. No matter what I do I nearly always have to submit to a search, which I always find stressful, but before I even reach the metal detectors, I am already tense from the anticipation, the emptying of pockets and removing of shoes. Last year when we went on holiday, Neelam was concerned that I was about to hit one of the security men, fortunately, so far, it has not come to that. I hate queues but I think most people do. It’s not so much the pace, as the press of too many people that upsets me. Our arrival today was much better, instead of having to wait for the seats in front of us to file out, the back doors just behind us were open so we could walk across the tarmac. I do dislike waiting for my cases in Baggage Reclaim, but today they came through quite quickly.

Although the plane was later than we expected, and the rush hour had begun we were not greatly delayed and got done all we needed to do on the way home. No sooner had I got home than I was on an inspiring telephone call about the possibilities for the long poem I’m writing. The call finished and just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, my wife told me Margaret Thatcher had died. I am sorry I’m missing the street party and the half price drinks on the pub, but I shall shed no tears. Perhaps the only person more hated around this part of Scotland is Hitler and, to hear some people talk, that’s not certain. However while she is hated up here, she has family who probably love her and friends who appear to hold her in affection (although they seen mostly to be English Tories). It seems to me a little insensitive to vilify her quite as viciously on social media as some are. Thatcher is dead, surely it’s time to turn our hated against David Cameron, who has all Thatcher’s unpleasant political beliefs, but only a fraction of her presence and personality.




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