Springingtiger's Blog


Thirty Quid Behind The Bar.
January 13, 2016, 00:03
Filed under: Scotland, social media | Tags: , , , , , ,

I do not socialise as a rule, I don’t like places where the music is loud and the people too many. However I make an exception of Tuesday night’s. Tuesday is the night I attend a pub quiz.

Every Tuesday I can I go to the Admiral Bar, Waterloo Street in Glasgow for the quiz. This is as close as I get to a regular social event and it had a sense of community about it. Some of the regulars have been attending for a decade and are regular targets for the owner, Dave Ross’s humour. As he says, “Come for the atmosphere, stay for the abuse”. As well as providing an opportunity to win prizes the Admiral Quiz provides a couple of hours of free entertainment; free that is apart from the price of your food and drinks.

Next week I won’t be paying for my dinner because our team won a runner’s-up prize of a wee bar tab. We have on rare occasions won the cash jackpot, but not recently. Still it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

When I received my Aspergers diagnosis I was asked if I wanted information of social groups for people on the Autism Spectrum, to which my wife responded, “That’s Facebook isn’t it?” It wasn’t. However people on the Spectrum tend to like a good reason to mix with others, but don’t necessary want to attend special groups. So Meet-Up groups for particular interests are good and so are things like the Admiral Quiz, If the music weren’t as loud it would be perfect. One side effect of David Bowie leaving us meant today’s music was excellent, sometimes it’s a little modern for my taste, but I don’t go for the music.



To The Child I Used To Be

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There is a tradition of people in their maturity addressing, in writing,  their childhood selves;  turning sixty seems a good time.
I think the first thing I would say to my younger self is, “There is nothing wrong with you.  You may find the world confusing  and feel out of place, you may be aware you are different and don’t fit in; your brain is wired differently from other people,  not wrongly,  just differently. You will eventually learn you have Asperger’s syndrome,  high functioning autism,  it’s no big deal. However it’s something you share with some of the great people of history, they are great because they walked their own way. I wasted time trying to be normal and fit in, you are normal for you,  you will never fit in with the norm, but those who matter will include you. You may feel now that you will never have friends you can trust,  you will,  but they will be few,  their lack of numbers offset by the quality of their friendship.

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You may feel alone now,  it will not be forever so. You find girls confusing and think you will never understand them, I am sorry but you never will,  that’s nothing to do with the Asperger’s its the curse,  or blessing, of all men; don’t worry,  it is just what’s so. The best you can hope for is that you will find a girl who understands you and accepts you as you are; you will,  I did.  When you find her,  love her and tell her often that you love her, women like that sort of thing.  Love is another thing you will never understand,  but there will come a time when you know you are loved,  and you love so much it brings tears of joy to your eyes. You will learn that tears are not always bad, but often beautiful.  You will never understand romance,  I’m still trying,  I have worked out that it’s something to do with flowers. On the subject of love I should mention sex; apparently it is not just a bodily function,  but women have it as a way of expressing love, take your cue from her. Oh, and you can learn a lot about the mechanics of sex from books, you probably won’t get much practice before marriage and when it comes to sex, practice may cause problems.

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Sex tends, eventually, to lead to children. There are books on the practical aspects of parenthood,  but  nothing can prepare you for the emotional chaos children bring. The best advice I can give is love them and do your very best,  whatever you do they will turn out as they will, and all you can do is love them and be their for them. Parenthood is an emotional maelstrom,  yours and theirs,  whatever happens hold on to them, but let them go their own way and make their own mistakes. Not all your tears will be the good sort. Grandchildren make it all worthwhile.

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You are intelligent and have lots of potential,  however other people’s expectations of you are just that,  other people’s expectations. Walk your own way. I have used my intelligence to get into management,  in all honesty it did not make me happy and caused a lot of stress. There is nothing wrong with ambition and realising your potential,  but it is more important to be happy and to go to bed looking forward to waking up in the morning. One thing you should know is that there is help available for you with employment and studies.  I dropped out of university,  had my Asperger’s been known perhaps I might not. Would my life have been better with a degree I neither know nor care;  I can only live this life in this moment, speculation on what may have been is futile.  Remember follow your happiness, what does not make you truly happy is unlikely to be right for you.  Walk your own way, follow your happiness and work at your pace.

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Change is inevitable,  sorry.  As you go through life you change schools,  change jobs, meet new people and worse lose them.  Pets and people die and when you love them it hurts so badly you want to go to bed and never wake up again. Life goes on and the pain somehow changes into a sort of bitter sweet wistfulness that adds a richness to living. The only way is through,  you will come through,  I have many times.

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Keep an open mind.  It is too easy to see things digitally.  In fact nothing is entirely good or bad,  black or white, there may always be factors of which you are unaware. By all means hold firm to your values,  but don’t judge others by your standards,  what matters is that they meet their own.  By all means avoid those who make you uncomfortable,  but first examine your reasons; prejudice is a very poor basis for decision making. Try and be tolerant, other people may not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile. Be open to experience and be prepared to put up with some discomfort.  Push your boundaries,  get out of your comfort zone. Pursue knowledge insatiably and don’t discount anything just file away the stupid stuff,  further information may make it sensible.  Finally, for now,  read and read and read widely,  about anything and everything you live in an amazing universe immerse yourself in it and enjoy it. Walk your own path, in your own way, with an open mind, be open to experience,  but above all follow your happiness.

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Heathrow Meltdown
December 9, 2014, 11:04
Filed under: Parenting, Travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

On Sunday Neelam and I flew back to Glasgow from London Heathrow Airport. I have never liked flying, I find it extremely stressful. The problems begin with packing to meet the rules of the airlines, sizing bags and weighing them, but on a return journey with no shopping there was no cause for worry. They continue with the anxiety induced by having to get to the airport on time, on Sunday that presented no problem at all. The biggest anxiety for me is an irrational dread of not getting through security. On Sunday I successfully ensured I did not set off metal detectors, I should have been able to relax, but Neelam both set off the detector and activated a bag search. Then as I replaced my bits and pieces in their proper places about my person I discovered my favourite ring was missing, my stress was beginning to build.

We were to fly at 21:00 and our gate should have been announced at 20:10, we waited for the announcement until 20:35. I was beginning to be anxious, I don’t like my schedule to be changed without prior notice, actually I just don’t like my schedule to be changed. At last we were directed to  gate A6, but while we were queuing the gate was changed to A4a. When we reached A4a we discovered we were actually leaving through A4b. We were in a confined space full of people, some of whom were very apparently upset, most of whom seemed to be talking. The circumstances were conducive to meltdown.

I could feel my body’s tics beginning to become pronounced. I pushed through the press and got to a seat. I put my earplugs in and closed my eyes to try and block out stimuli. Then came that moment I always dread, when my body and my mind separate and I find myself looking on impotently as my body weeps, shakes and makes strange noises and there is nothing I can do. Were I insensible it might be less terrifying, there are few things, if any, I know more terrifying than being trapped powerless in my own body. Fortunately this time, as on some other occasions, my conscious closed down, in itself scaring, but insensibility provides a relief from unimaginable horror. I don’t know how I would have managed had I been travelling alone, but fortunately Neelam was with me, she took my ‘Autism Alert’ card and took control. She got me on the plane and then home.

As I come out of the meltdown I am confused. It is as though as I gain control of my body, I lose control of my mind. My speech becomes jumbled, my emotions confused and my ability to process information is drastically reduced. However after a meltdown I am totally exhausted, all my energy is drained. I just wrote Monday off and slept. Sleep is the only thing that brings my recovery, which is fortunate, as I am usually incapable of remaining awake. It is now nearly thirty six hours since my meltdown, I am awake and able to write, but I am still incredibly tired. I don’t think, unless someone has experienced a meltdown themselves’ anyone can appreciate the mental or physical toll of meltdown. Mentally it is terrifying, physically it is so draining that it can take days to recover.

Are there lessons to learn from meltdown? Firstly, If you are autistic carry an alert card! We never advise the airline in advance because I so rarely have a problem; after Sunday I know that, should I ever fly alone, I will advise the airline of my possible needs in advance. I am grateful that none of my fellow passengers had any objection to staff getting me on the bus first, not that I was aware by that point, but I would ask that people do show forbearance when someone is in meltdown, trust me it is far more upsetting to experience than to watch. I think thirdly, recognise that the person who has experienced a meltdown may need time, peace and quiet to recover; if you are the one recovering, take as long as you need and to everyone else, please be patient.



Lego and Free Thought

When, yesterday, I shared my Lego Brick Planner, a system to introduce structured flexibility into scheduling, a friend told me to patent it. However as I said to her I will not. I don’t believe in the ownership of ideas, but in sharing them. It may be argued that by publishing I have established intellectual ownership; if I own the idea I can do with it what I will and I will share it.

Despite all the infighting and arguments I still like to think of those affected by autism spectrum disorders as a community and communities share. There are too many people who seek to profit from the misfortunes of others, who exploit the desperation of parents; there are too many who see autism as a source of income rather than an opportunity to serve people. I have received help and support from the community, I chose to give back. If someone uses my. Lego system to help people and earns money by doing so, I will not begrudge it, but no one owns this, it is a free idea, an Open Source thought.

Lego, quite rightly, owns the copyright on Lego products. However what they do not, nor do they try, is to own the creativity Lego inspires. I use a kitchen timer to divide my day, the timer only goes up to an hour. I use My Daily Greatness Journal, it has a daily planner that divides a day into half hours, as do most paper schedulers. Can I help it if I saw these regular units of time as Lego bricks, and if, when they became bricks, they became interchangeable. Lego is about creativity, you can use the colours of the bricks, you can move a mini figure from day to day as your week progresses to keep track of the days (Batman is good),. You might want to go to the Lego store and make mini figures to represent significant people you  meet regularly and put them on the days you are going to meet them. Lego is about creativity, the Lego Brick Planner is about creating a visual tool to plan your day and to accommodate changes to your schedule less painfully. It works for me because it is visual and kinesthetic, it won’t work for everyone, but everyone is free to try it. Me, I’m going to develop it further because that’s the NLP way, “What else can I do with this?” as Richard Bandler would ask.

I have to say I am delighted with the response from the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (if you haven’t already, buy the book, it’s very useful). This is what community is about, sharing, and Lego, and Dr. Who, and the National Railway Museum in York and it can all be plotted with colored (American spelling in honor of TPGA) bricks. I’m in an awfully good mood today happy, happy, happy…that gives me another idea for my colored bricks!



Lego Planner

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I like to have my day mapped out so that I know what I am going to do and when, I really do not like having my schedule disrupted. In summer,when so many of my plans include gardening and the Scottish weather is so unpredictable, I face daily frustrations. I have been working with NLP for many years to discover strategies that enableme to get through my days without exploding, and the Glasgow weather has inspired the Lego Brick Planning Strategy.

Put in its simplest terms, I plan my day as if time were made of Lego bricks.I can either do it by visualising the day as bricks or by actually using bricks. The eight stud, rectangular brick represents one hour; the four stud, square brick is half an hour and the small, two stud rectangle is fifteen minutes. Personally I still plan my day on paper, but I think of each timed segment as a Lego Brick, interchangeable with any other Lego Brick or bricks that have the same number of studs. This allows me to rearrange the bricks should it be necessary without substantially altering my day, although living in Glasgow sometimes outdoor bricks have to be swapped to another day of the week. I do my planning with a diary and the weather forecast, the diary tends to be more useful because my wife supplies the information it contains. Not all bricks are moveable, every week has some immovable bricks, these are scheduled appointments, but every other brick in the weekly wall is swappable.

At the moment I prefer to work with the Lego Brick plan one day at a time, but I intend to work up a full planner, not only using different sizes brick for different lengths of time, but different colours for different types of task. Now I need my own set of Lego bricks, the ones my granddaughters left here are too big and too few for my purposes.



Blue Eyes

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Well this is strange, but my world feels different. New glasses may, reasonably, be expected to cause me to see the world differently, but to feel differently? Interesting, and strange.

When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, Anne Marie Gallagher of the Autism Resource Centre suggested I might want to visit an optician, Ian Jordan, in Ayr, who has had some success in treating the symptoms of autism with coloured lenses. This year, at last, after a long delay, I have finally got around to having him test my eyes and today I got my new glasses, happily at no greater cost than I would normally pay.

I must admit I am surprised at how quickly they have made a difference. I had expected them to help cut out excess light, I had not expected the other benefits. The first, and most obvious benefit, is that my new blue lenses reduce the brightness of the light I receive. One of the unforseen, but welcome benefits is that my lower back and sacroiliac pain fades while I am wearing them, it does mean that my glasses go on as soon as I wake. Another reason for putting my spectacles on when I awake is that when I am brushing my teeth I can comfortably brush the molars at the back of my mouth; in the past because of my strong gag reflex it has been uncomfortable to brush my teeth, but now it presents no difficulty.

I enjoy a sense of calm when I wear my blue lenses and it is my impression, admittedly I have not measured it, that both my stimming and involuntary movements are reduced. Another welcome benefit is that I can successfully see people’s faces as a whole rather than individual features commanding my attention so that their faces had the appearance of a collage. At one point I took my glasses off and remarked to my wife that I had not hitherto realised how hypersensitive I was, she replied, “Oh I had!” She also observes that I am calmer and less prone to obsession, which she explained by saying that, normally, if I am doing something I will go on and on, refusing to pause, exploding at interruptions, until I was finished, but now I am more relaxed. I still have my tinnitus, but it seems less intrusive. However when I take off my spectacles I am assaulted by a cacophony of stimuli, auditory and visual, calmed instantly when I replace them.

I don’t believe there is a cure for autism. Behavioral interventions can alleviate some of its effects, some of its comorbid conditions can be treated too. I do know that some of the symptoms I experience are now alleviated by my glasses, not cured, they return when my glasses are off, but I’m happy with that. In the past I have not wanted to wear my spectacles and have tended not to, now I find I don’t want to take them off.

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Missing People

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I recently commented that I make it a principle not to miss people. I see very little point in missing people, It serves no useful purpose. However it should not be assumed that I do not remember people fondly after they have left my life, but memory is valuable, what most people think of as “missing” can be debilitating.

I may use the term, “missing”, but when I do so I generally mean, “think of often”. In fact the only person who really comes into that category is my Father in law, Om Prakash Bakshi, and that is to some extent because we have his photo in our living room. He was a lot of fun and probably had the best grasp of advaita of anyone I have known. He eventually forgave me for marrying his daughter and became a very good friend. He came to enlightenment late in life, but lived his final years in childlike joy, yet with a wisdom much appreciated by those navigating between the factional rivalries of the old people’s centre on whose committee he sat. He was extremely intelligent, funny and good to have around.

It is appropriate to miss people when first they leave one’s life, although I tend not to, because of the changes to one’s routine and daily expectations the departure occasions. What is, in my opinion, inappropriate is to be, some months later, carrying a debilitating grief. On reflection grief is inappropriate and as useless as regret as an emotion (are there any useful negative emotions?). Personally I feel that the appropriate reaction to someone’s departure from one’s life is to make appropriate adjustments for their departure and move on with a new schedule. Having said that, my Saturdays are in some confusion because Strictly Come Dancing has finished and Doctor Who has not yet returned; I really don’t want to adopt a new schedule what I know I’m just going to have to change it again!

I suppose some people will say that there is a difference between the absence of a person and that of a television program, but I don’t see why. Other people, like television programs, are external to my body and perceived through the same senses and cognitive processes. I have known Doctor Who for fifty years which is far longer than anyone I define as a friend, and I am told my definition is less exacting than most humans. It seems only logical that the absence of Doctor Who should affect me more than an ordinary person, I have known him longer and seen him more often and more regularly than anyone else.

I do go to funerals, I even left flowers when Nelson Mandela died, as a gesture of respect, but I find it hard to get to grips with some of the public outpouring of grief when celebrities die. I did not know Mandela, but he and apartheid defined a large period of my life. I don’t miss apartheid, I don’t miss Mandela, I think of him rarely, but I thank him for his inspiration. There are many I remember, many with affection, but none I think I miss in the usual sense of the word. Indeed when I look back over my life and I realise how many people I have known have died, and when I add them to the people whom I have not personally known but who have impacted my life, I am relieved I don’t miss them, if have little time not energy for more important things.