Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Scotland, success | Tags: Angiolina Foster, AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, Edinburgh, information processing, Mike Foster, personal development, personal growth, Raoul Malo, Scotland, self empowerment, social networking, The Mavericks
This week I have been revisiting my past, happily without disappointment. It must be about nine years since I saw The Mavericks, however Neelam discovered that they were performing in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Wednesday and bought tickets. Each of our Front Stall tickets was thirty five pounds, I have to say that occurs ad great value. The support act was a singer/songwriter, Declan O’Rourke; his first two slow songs led me to believe I was going to be bored by him, but then he went into an acappella song about a sailor marrying the sea and the rest of his set was funny, inspired and lively. Of course the audience was the Mavericks’ audience and The Mavericks did not disappoint. Their new material was blended with the classics we all knew and bopped along to, some of the arrangements were new, but the enjoyment was unchanged. When the band took it’s interval, Raoul Malo was away long enough for a quick pee and then came back to play a solo set until the band returned. Very few of the audience say for long during the second half, it is easier to listen to The Mavericks while dancing! It may have been nearly a decade since I saw them, buy there were as great as I remembered.
I spent three weeks living in Edinburgh in 1986 as part of the British Telecom Special Events Team at the Commonwealth Games and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, perhaps too well. Since then I have only visited as a day tripper, Neelam and I decided this time to stay for a couple of nights. Edinburgh is still an easy place in which to have fun and find good food. Even were one to choose not to enter any of the city’s attractions, just walking around the streets is an entertainment provided by the tourists and the amazing views that present themselves at every turn. I have returned to Edinburgh and I was not disappointed.
Back in my student days I used to hang out in Turnbull Hall, the Catholic chaplaincy. Among the crowd were Mike Foster and his girl friend Angiolina, two of the nicest people one could have hoped to meet. I am notoriously bad at maintaining contacts, but Neelam has been encountering both Mike and Angiolina at various points in her professional life. Neelam set up for is to meet Angiolina, who is now a director in the Scottish Government over coffee in St. Andrew’s House. In all honesty I was not entirely looking forward to the meeting, it had been a long time since we had met and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I should not have worried, Angiolina was every bit as lovely as I remembered and it was great to catch up on the intervening thirty seven years (I did say I’m not good at keeping in contact with people!) I was not disappointed, far from it, it crowned a very enjoyable mini holiday.
People say it’s not a good idea to revisit one’s past because of the danger of disappointment, they are entitled to their opinions. However I have revisited my past and I was not disappointed. After the last few days, should I get an opportunity to revisit my past I will not hesitate; the possible joy to be derived from revisiting my past far outweighs the risk of disappointment.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, social media | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, change, disability, emotions, FaceBook, information processing, privacy, social media, social networking
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!
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Parenting | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, depression, disability, information processing, language, sensory processing, social networking
Some of you may have noticed that I have, of late, published fewer blog posts on Autism than hitherto. Some people thought, wrongly, that I was becoming obsessed, but the subject was crowding out other interests. I am interested in Autism, but I am interested in many other things too, and in this year of writing every day I am endeavouring to provide a little more variety. However Autism will remain a subject about which I write.
Another reason for temporarily reducing the Autism posts is that I am building up a head of steam for April. I intend to publish an Autism related blog post every day in April. So what is on the menu for April? Perhaps something on idiomatic language? I don’t know as yet, so if anyone out there has any questions they want to ask of a middle ages autistic, please ask, you’ll be doing me a favour. So what do you want to know that I might be able to tell you, I was asked earlier tonight about getting an Asperger’s diagnosis, so I expect that will be one post, but if there is anything you want to know or if you have any suggestions, please let me know.
I know Autism Awareness or Autism Affirmation is a year round need and the effort to make people aware should never cease, but the April push seems to be becoming a tradition and it’s a worthy tradition to foster, hence a month of autism blogs. I think it’s important that people who actually have the experience of being autistic, wherever on the spectrum they may be, should make their voices heard, their opinions known. It is easy for people who have the facility to imagine how others feel, to ascribe to Autistics feelings that are not actually there for the Autistic person, and I think the actual experiences of Autistics need to be heard to counter all the myths. Now it is true that our experiences do differ and there are a number of factors that can cause considerable pain and discomfort, but to assume that all our lives are miserable is untrue. For some Autistic people their condition may be one of suffering, but would it be if the humans around them did not keep telling them they were suffering? We have our own minds and our own thoughts and feelings, which we should be allowed to discover and express for ourselves. Roll on April
Filed under: social media | Tags: blogging, blogs, social media, social networking
As some of you are aware I am writing every day and have committed to posting to my blog everyday, and I have already commented on some of the challenges with which I have been presented. I have discovered a new challenge, the disappearing blog.
Last night I finished my blog for posting this morning – this post I am currently writing will actually be published the day after tomorrow, that’s how my schedule works – and used WordPress’ scheduling tools to publish it this morning. I went to bed happy to be on schedule. This afternoon I thought to check my blog only to discover my post missing. Now I know not whether the scheduling tools had failed, or, more probably, I had made a mistake, but the post was not there and time was moving on. Fortunately my post and my links were on Google Docs so I was delayed, not defeated.
Scheduling tools are useful, I have used the WordPress tool before, successfully, and it is useful. Of course there are other blog scheduling tools; were it not for the free tool I have on WordPress, I would by now be using SocialOomph Professional https://www.socialoomph.com/ . If I was blogging for business reasons, I would not hesitate to use SocialOomph Professional, for less than six pounds a week as well as the Twitter scheduling it allows one to operate several accounts, schedule blogs, schedule shares on several social networks. However I am not blogging for business purposes and so WordPress is enough for me. Blogger also has a facility for scheduling posts, so check to see what facilities are available to you on your service.
What this incident has taught me is that it is essential to know and understand the tools one is using. Use them before you need to, so that when you do need them, you’ll know what you are doing. If you can, check as soon as you can after the scheduled time to make sure the post has been published. Keep a copy of your post so that if it isn’t published on schedule you can publish it manually; even if you missed the scheduled time, in most cases the blog will still be usable. Oh, and make sure when you set up the schedule, you have correctly set up your time zone, it does make a difference!
Filed under: Justice, Politics, social media, success | Tags: blogging, blogs, Clem Lefebvre, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, films, JK Rowling, Linus Torvalds, Linux, Linux Format, Linux Mint, personal development, Randall Munroe, self empowerment, social media, social networking, Tim Berners Lee
There is something very gratifying when one finds oneself quoted in someone else’s blog. Another friend of mine recently asked to quote me, I replied that once my words had left my mouth they became a gift to anyone who would listen and they were free to use them as they chose. My words are my Giveaway in the Internet potlatch.
I was reading in Linux Format an excellent article about Linux Mint and I was thinking to myself that people like Clem Lefebvre who spend time and effort in making free, open source software available play a very special role in society. There are many of them, Linus Torvalds who gave us the Linux Kernel, and all the developers and contributors to forums so that ordinary people like me have access to quality software. A particular hero is Tim Berners-Lee, who not only invented the World Wide Web, but gave it away to the world rather than leveraging it for millions.
It is not only in the realm of software that we have people willing to share of their creativity, there is the excellent xkcd comic produced by Randall Munroe and many others who allow their material to be used and shared without charge. MySpace and YouTube have all sorts of musicians and filmmakers providing free entertainment.
The Web is awash with writers, some humorous, there are blogs and online magazines and newspapers, many of which provide their content for free.
Of course much of the free content on the Web is not open and it’s creators retain copyright, but they are still good enough to make it available without charge.
The internet may be seen by some as a money making opportunity, but for others it provides an opportunity to challenge society’s accepted models of finance and communication, putting control into the hands of ordinary people. Crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to bypass the banks, and pitch their ideas directly to ordinary people who make contributions to make the idea reality. Crowdsourcing allows creators and designers to interact directly with the people, to test ideas and get feedback. Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding bring democracy into the creative process.Similarly the availability of blogging facilities and the interactivity of much online journalism democratises communication and news dissemination.
There is a tale of a man who on his death was invited to choose between heaven and hell. He asked what was the difference and was given the opportunity to visit both. In hell the people sat at a sumptuous banquet, but were miserable and hungry because the chopsticks were so long they could not get food into their mouths. Heaven at first glance was similar to hell, same banquet, same long chopsticks, but in heaven the people were happy and well feed because they were feeding each other.
I was so pleased to see that JK Rowling has lost her billionaire status because of the amount of money she gives to charity. What a wonderful woman, while others try to amass ridiculously large fortunes, she is giving hers away to make the world better for other people!
If we give up our selfishness which is just a manifestation of fear, and instead learn to share we can all participate and live well while ending the outmoded greed based structures upon which society was previously based. If we opened up and learned to share freely this could be a great world in which to live.
I am not so arrogant that I expect people to want to use what I write, but I am inspired enough by the idea of open source to declare my blog copyright free. An acknowledgment (or pingback) would be nice, but please “feel free”!
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Parenting, success | Tags: AS, asd, ASD parents, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, Autism Moms, depression, disability, emotions, information processing, personal development, personal growth, relaxation, self empowerment, social networking
I was looking at Twitter’s suggestions of whom I might like to follow, and was struck by how many of the short bios said things like, “stay at home mom of 3 kids, 1 on the spectrum” or “Aspie mother of an aspie son” or — in my case — “I am a Shiv devotee with Aspergers.”. I mention my Aspergers on my Facebook profile and on my WordPress bio too. One is inclined to wonder whether this is like walking up to people and saying, “How do you do, I am Autism”, If there were an “Autism Anonymous” would we be standing up and saying, “My name is Rory and I am autistic”? Although given how prominently we display our interest in autism, anonymous does not come into it!
Obviously for people on the Spectrum and for their parents and family autism is a primary concern, but sometimes I wonder if we allow it to obscure the whole of who we are. If we are on the Spectrum there is no way we cannot be autistic, it is a part of who we are like brown skin, red hair or blue eyes. The parents of autistic children may be so occupied with the upbringing of their ASD child that they have little time to think of other things.
I think sometimes we need to be reminded that we are much more than our autism. We have interests and abilities that are not given by autism — although our way of engaging with them may well be. Who we are is not only determined by our genetics but also by what we do, our relationships, our employment, our interests and hobbies. Rather than the statement, “I am autistic”, I think we should express ourselves more along the lines of, “I am an autistic person who …writes, runs, likes trains, loves dinosaurs, plays basketball, enters beauty pageants etc” because we are so much more than the label and each of our achievements should be celebrated. When we refuse to conform to society’s stereotype let’s make a noise about it. Autism is interesting, but we are interesting too, as people.
Sometimes as I read the blogs of parents with autistic children, I wonder if they need to be reminded of who they are. The dedication and commitment of these parents is admirable, but perhaps they should remember sometimes the person they were, of whom they have lost sight. It may not be realistic for them to hold the same goals as before their autistic child was born, but somewhere inside them the young person who dreamt of great things, is still alive. They, and the rest of us need to remember, that they are more than, “Autism Moms (or Dads)” — not a label that I like — they are people, fully rounded human beings. It is too easy to lose them behind the label and what we cannot see we forget. That your high school friend with the autistic child has heavy demands on his or her time now does not mean they are no longer the person whose company you once enjoyed. Neither should you think they don’t want to see you, they do, but they want you to be able to accept their child without judgement, if they haven’t been seeing you it may be not because they don’t want to see you, but because they don’t want to lose you. Some people are not able to cope with the presence of an autistic child, but many can, at least for a while. It is time that Autism Parents were presented to the world as three dimensional people, and it is time that society — instead of rendering them invisible — recognised them and embraced them. They were once your friends, once they enriched your life, what they can bring to you now is so very much more, more profound, than they could then. People with autism in their lives — like any other people — need people, they need people like you.
Whether Autistic or the parents of Autistics, we are not defined by Autism, we are people. If you take the trouble to get to know us you might like us, well some of us anyway!
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Justice, Parenting, social media | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, bullying, child abuse, cyberbullying, depression, disability, FaceBook, information processing, internet, language, personal development, personal growth, self empowerment, self harm, sensory processing, sexual abuse, social media, social networking
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.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, social media | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, blogging, blogs, disability, information processing, social media, social networking
There was a time in the recent past when if I wanted to write a blog, I clicked on “New Post” and the page which came up allowed me not only to write my blog, but also to select from my most often used tags (very useful when one blogs repeatedly on a subject) and to click on my categories. Now when I click on “New Post” I get a, far from fully functional, truncated page. I have found that the only way to blog on WordPress the way I like is to post from the “New Post” page then immediately go to my new post, click on “Edit This” which returns me to a fully functional page where I can complete my post using the functions I have come to enjoy.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, social media, success | Tags: AS, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, blogging, blogs, emotions, english, english language, information processing, L Michael Hall, language, literature, Michael Hall, neurolinguistic programming, nlp, personal development, personal growth, self empowerment, social media, social networking, visualisation
Some years ago I asked Michael Hall, one of my favourite writers and a teacher of mine, for advice. He is a prolific writer and what he told me was that every day he writes for a minimum of half an hour, usually he writes more, but even when he has a busy day ,for example while travelling, he will get at the least his half hour. I suppose, on reflection, the key is to build a habit of writing, to exercise the skill daily. As health experts tell us a little exercise every day is better than several hours in the gym once a week. This year I have determined that I will write my blog every day, although I am not sure I will publish daily, that is the intention. On the days when I work my long break is half an hour, which allows me to meet the half hour minimum target. Unfortunately if I am to publish daily I shall, almost certainly, have to sacrifice some editing and revision. Next year when the habit of writing is well installed I shall, perhaps, reduce publishing frequency and work on enhancing the quality.
Something I suppose I could look at is speech recognition software, but having limited time I tend to worry that it would require too much editing. Of course all this attention to scheduling, to building up productive habits like daily writing is to serve a greater purpose, to build a context for things to happen. The writing matters, as I have said before, it is only by reading what I have written that I know what I am thinking. My world exists, to a very great extent, on paper, in words, both mine and so often the words of others, novels, histories, scriptures,maps in an atlas, photographs of people and places and the past. My world is defined on paper, and where it is not written there is, so to speak, a blank page. My writing is the magic by which I create my world, some cultures sang their world into being, some dreamed it, I write mine, my arteries run with ink. And so I am writing 2013 into existence, writing it and drawing it; my vision for my garden will first appear on paper, amending earlier drawings, talking to me, telling me to, “Try this”. It will take more than half an hour a day to write my year into being, but this year shall be written.
Filed under: asperger's syndrome, autism, disability, Justice, Politics | Tags: AS, asd, asperger's, asperger's syndrome, autism, BBC, depression, disability, emotions, Gary McKinnon, information processing, language, sensory processing, social media, social networking, Teresa May
t has been hard to suppress tears of joy as I have been reading the Daily Mail coverage of Teresa May’s announcement that Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the USA. The cancelling of the bail condition that barred him from accessing the internet is almost as important.
I have said before, and I make no apology for repeating myself, that to remove internet access from someone with Asperger’s syndrome amounts to cruel and unnecessary punishment. Since his internet access was removed McKinnon has in effect been in prison, he has already served a ten year sentence! For many people with Aspergers the internet is the preferred instrument of communication and to cut us off from it is very much like gagging an average human, or removing them from human contact. Deny an average human internet access and it will make little difference to them, they will simply revert to spoken conversation. Just because someone with Aspergers is physically capable of speech does not mean they either want to use the spoken word or that they can communicate effectively by speech. It is difficult to converse with ordinary humans because they neither speak in sentences, nor order their material logically, nor even sequentially. Text based communication allows the person with Aspergers, not only the time to process the input of others (which may also involve correcting it), but also the freedom to reply at the pace they find comfortable. Spoken communication can be difficult, painful (literally) and sometimes physically impossible. Processing the content of someone’s speech can be impossible when one is also having to cope with extraneous auditory and visual stimuli. Sometimes even the proximity of other people can render speech difficult. Text based communication allows one to focus on and process one source of information, to take the internet away from many people with Aspergers is to deprive them of most their meaningful social interaction, it’s a bit like solitary confinement.
Many people with Aspergers have serious difficulty in socialising and may, as Gary McKinnon has been, avoid social interaction, or even, avoid other people altogether. To deprive these people of access to the internet is to further compound our isolation and when, as in Gary McKinnon’s case, they are also suffering from depression this is unjustifiably cruel.
Gary McKinnon has already served a ten year sentence. He has been tortured for ten years, because those in whose hands his fate lay had no comprehension of through what pain they were putting him. Should Gary McKinnon stand trial in the UK I hope the years of suffering he has already endured will be allowed to offset any formal sentence he may be given.