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.



Cuts Obscentiy

Am I the only person who find it obscene that multimillionaires feel that the only way to take the UK’s debt is to cut the benefits of the disabled and purple on low incomes. I watched disgusted as yet again George Osborne announced that, yet again, the poor and disabled are to bear the brunt of the cuts. He wants to make savings of twelve million this year from the welfare budget, when you bear in mind that last summer he committed to spending thirty million pounds to building a totally unnecessary garden in the middle of London’s commercial district, this cut is shown to be the obscenity it is. Osborne is taking food from the poor of Britain to pay to prettify the City. Everyone outside London as well as the poor of London have a right to be angry.

George Osborne says that a further twenty five billion pounds of cuts are needed, buy he shows no sign of taking it from the rich, he will still subsidise the banks and the poor will pay again. If he is serious about cutting twenty five billion pounds from the budget there is an obvious place to make the cut, unnecessary military spending. If we refuse to replace Trident we will make the required saving, we don’t need nuclear weapons and in Scotland we don’t want them. If we were to cut the other unnecessary spending on aircraft carriers and planes bought from the USA the saving would be more than double, perhaps four times what is required. Britain could have a substantial surplus. However the Conservatives in Westminster seem to be determined to continue on their current path of forcing people into poverty.

Here in Scotland we are faced with further cuts inflicted upon us by a government for which we will not have voted. It seems increasingly certain that the power of Holyrood to protect Scotland from the worst excesses of Westminster will be drastically curtailed. Now more than ever we need to be free of Westminster before they plunge us further into poverty. If I needed a reason to vote Yes, George Osborne has provided it.

Blackadder star and Gove in WW1 row http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25612369



The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the Eighth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A new beginning. The Eighth Day of Christmas is the first of the New Year and, this year is also a new moon. If the seven days off a week represent a mundane cycle, the Eighth day represents a level above, thus in some cultures a woman is considered purified eight days after menstruation or birth and allowed to re-enter society and Jewish boys are circumcised eight days after birth. The wheel of the year is divided by the solstices, equinoxes and the mid points between them. The wheel of the law has eight spokes for the noble eightfold path. In both India and China eight is a lucky number associated with wealth.

Were Jesus born on the twenty fifth of December then the first of January would be the day on which he was circumcised and received into the community, in effect the day his life began, the previous seven days given to purification. So the new year begins today and traditionally today is the day people make their resolutions for the new year, resolutions that sadly tend to fade away by the end of January. The problem with resolutions is that, unlike goals, they are not constrained by time and detailed steps. I managed to blog every day of Twenty-Thirteen because that resolution was subject to time constraints and was also manageable. However those constraints no longer bind me, my blogging challenge has finished; if I don’t publish this today I don’t care….aye right! I’ll finish these twelve days because I said I would.

Last year’s challenge was as much about integrity as blogging. I’m not sure about resolutions for this year, but it is going, again, to be very much about integrity. Integrity is saying what you will do and doing it, so this year my resolution is to think before I speak, and that will be a radical departure for me! I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to this year, I hope it is as good for you as I expect it to be for me.

Today’s blog has been brought to you by the number Eight and the letter A for alive, Asperger’s and autism.



The Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…
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Five is the number of Mercury, the messenger of the gods it relates to communication, but also divine inspiration. It is a number for artists and communicators. Five makes me think very much of blogging, particularly writing a daily blog, which demands both inspiration and communication. In two days time, on the Seventh day of Christmas, I will complete my challenge to publish a blog post every day of this year; I do not intend to rest on the seventh day, celebrate yes, but rest, no. I shall complete the Twelve days of Christmas, after a year of discipline I am not going to miss the twelfth day’s celebration of the Lord of Misrule.

Five is the age at which children, in this country start school, which may be appropriate to the number of inspiration and communication, but how long before the education system crushes inspiration and constrains communication along carefully directed paths. Some educators recognise that children differ from each other in how they learn, and in vocation, unfortunately politicians would have all children be taught the same lessons in the same way without regard to the individuality of the child. On the contrary, to a politician education is a tool to enforce conformity and compliance on the greater part of the population for the benefit of the elite. To the elite there are two sorts of education; there is mass education designed to produce a moderately educated workforce at no cost to employers, and there is the education of the elite which enables them to establish the networks they will use to retain power for their class. For the bulk of children education is designed to channel their aspirations into a desire to be good employees; whatever their dreams, they are told to be realistic and limit their aspirations.

I find it very sad how frequently I hear people say, “I’m just working to get the money to do what I want to do” they are in a box, it may as well be a coffin. How many are waiting for retirement to finally live their dreams? How many are going to be disappointed? Disappointed because this society is not designed for their fulfillment; it is structured for one purpose, to provide for the ruling elite and for their children who will succeed them. We only have to look at the Labour Party to see what happens to workers with aspirations. At one time the Labour Party represented the working classes and even returned some working class members to parliament. Now, however, after generations of exposure to the corrupting effects of power, the party is full of professional politicians whose children either succeed them to parliament or occupy other places at the trough.

I suppose one of the blessings of autism is that we do not conform to society’s norms, we are not wired that way. Of course all of society, not merely the elite, tends to close ranks against the nonconformist. When we are young being different hurts, as long as we believe in the illusion of desirability the education system forces upon us we are condemned to the misery of isolation. However for many of us there comes a day when the reality that we are different finally occurs to us, it is a realisation that brings freedom. True, we are unlikely to thrive and prosper on society’s terms, but neither are we bound by them. It occurs to me that the term “disability” when used by society really means “does not fit in”. Disability is a mindset that cannot see possibility nor invest in it; seeing and thinking differently is not a disability, the greatest disability is being bound by an illusion of normality that deceives you into conformance and slavery. We do not fear a zombie apocalypse, we already live our lives surrounded by zombies, or at least people who have been educated to be zombies; if Michael Gove gets his way the next generation will be even more lacking in free will than the last. I live in hope that someday the British people will wake from their trance, in the meantime, at last, we can reboot Scotland with a Yes vote for independence.

Today’s blog has been brought to you by the number Five and the letter S for Siva, Success and for Scotland, free in 2014!