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The Autistic Voice

To inspire, entertain and most importantly help you realise that while life doesn't always follow your chosen path, there is always something positive to be learned and more to be gained. Dr Sandra Beale-Ellis

NETWORKING: AUTISM FRIENDLY?

indexHi Readers

I am writing this blog in the nearly empty meeting room of large London solicitor’s firm.  There are a few people scattered around, drinking coffee and pretending to be busy with emails; a couple of them talking loudly… perhaps they are important?!  I wonder if I have even been noticed, scribbling away in my notebook?

The rest of them are standing huddled together in a small room next door; juggling briefcases, handbags, and cups of tea while they seek out others to pedal their wares to.

There are those who love these networking opportunities, trying to speak to as many people as possible; spreading swarms of bacteria as they shake numerous hands or forbid, air kiss to demonstrate their popularity. They want to be seen, or heard, and are fantastic networkers. In my experience they are usually the ones to avoid; consistently talking about themselves and their business (sport, in today’s case).

I may be here representing martial arts but I really don’t want to talk about any other sport. If it’s not relevant to me, why waste time and ‘ear space’? It will only overload my senses, and I need to keep those clear for the next two hours to keep up with the meeting we are actually here for. I find it difficult to appear interested when I’m not.

At the end they will all congregate again to juggle curled sandwiches and pieces of fruit; not me. I will disappear as soon as they close the meeting. In the spare outside there are a plethora of street vendors slowly cooking their fresh ingredients.

I shall be eating my lunch in the fresh air without someone explaining how footballers justify being paid millions! I shall avoid this somewhat controversial view – I admit I am not a football fan at all – to continue to look forward to some tasty morsels later.

And so with a minute to go, they all start piling into the room, having exhausted their voices, we hope, in readiness to listen.

Wish me luck

Until next time…

sandra

DOCTORAL STUDY: THE SUPERVISOR

holly-books

This was my dog Holly reading my research notes during  the process.  Note the inspirational quotations on my wall!!!

I have been keeping an eye on social media recently and have found that many autistic individuals studying for a PhD, EdD etc, struggle with supervisor experiences. When I was in the middle of the process, I supported another student who had a, shall we say, less than cooperative supervisor.  He was often left feeling useless and frustrated at the way his work was being supervised or not as the case may be.

I was extremely lucky. I had chosen my university, based on two things alone.  Firstly its reputation in the field of autism, and secondly on the person I had earmarked as my supervisor.  During my initial interview to be taken on the course, I had stressed that my application was based on this person becoming my supervisor.  At one point after I had started it seemed this wish was not to be taken into consideration, but I remained determined and I would have left the university if he had not been appointed to me.

Let me tell you why I was so adamant; and why you should be very careful about who supervises you through the process of doctorate study.

The success of the whole process, in my opinion, rests on having good support. This person is with you through several years of study, anguish, contemplation and doubt.  You need to know that this person will support, advise, listen and give you competent and sometimes comforting suggestions to the inevitable dilemmas which will surface.  This person needs to allow you time to sit and mull over ideas, suggest ways to improve your direction, and encourage when you are feeling everything is just too much.

For students who also happen to be autistic, this choice of supervisor is even more important. I list here my thoughts on supervisor choice for you to consider:

  1. Do your research before you start the course. Check out universities in areas you are comfortable travelling to. Don’t allow the journey to cause you any more stress than you need to. I chose a university 228 miles away, but to me getting used to this journey was worth it (I will blog about this some time).
  2. You should arrange an initial meeting with any choice individuals, just an informal chat about your initial ideas and reasons for completing a doctorate. It is essential that after this initial meeting you feel completely comfortable with the way the person engaged with you. I find autistic individuals usually have a sixth sense about a person quite quickly.
  3. Tell the individual what you find difficult, what you need from the tutorials and other meetings, and how they can help you through the process.
  4. Arrange for deadlines – this was absolutely crucial for me. For each section of my doctorate, I planned deadlines of when I would finish a task by; all my plans were sent to my supervisor and he would write them in his diary, pencilling out time to deal with them within an agreed timescale ready for feedback to me. I cannot emphasise how much this helped both of us during the process. It meant I did not have to sit for days or weeks worrying about how I was doing. We had agreed on how quickly I would hear back and he stuck to that over the four years.If I was struggling with a deadline and this did happen occasionally, mainly during the research phase as I experienced overload on a few occasions (more in another blog), I simply emailed my supervisor to explain and we postponed it. We always chose another date though, never leaving it to chance.
  5. Before each tutorial meeting, we agreed a plan for discussion. It may have been issues I needed to mull over with someone, or difficulties I was facing. Often he gave me suggestions for changing, say, my writing style in a particular section, or correcting my referencing.
  6. Ask your supervisor if you can record the meeting. I didn’t record the first one and I struggled to remember everything which was said. Despite making notes, sometimes you just need to listen to what is being said, or during intense discussions, making notes is not always easy. Listening to my tutorials back later was useful. I often did this on the way home via earphones and made necessary notes from the recordings.
  7. Find a place which feels comfortable to have your tutorials. If you are easily distracted, as I am, meeting in the university café is not ideal. One of my tutorials near the end was in such a place and we were constantly interrupted by other staff, students, raucous laughter, clanking cutlery; not ideal as we were discussing selection for the viva panel!
  8. Keep in touch with your supervisor regularly. Even if there is not a specific query, it is good to just check in. Let them know how you are doing, have you found a good book which is helpful, did you have a breakthrough, are you feeling like throwing a brick at your computer? They can’t support you if they don’t know what is going on.
  9. If you are finding that your supervisor just doesn’t get you, or is causing too much frustration and pain on a personal level (there is always frustration on a study level!), speak to the organiser of the course to see if there is a way to change before it gets worse. Bad supervision will give you a bad experience and for autistic individuals this could mean giving up… or worse
  10. Try to enjoy the process. My supervisor supported me to the very end… and beyond. He was there sitting behind me during my viva, and even when we left the room with me in tears (yes I had passed) he was there ready to take me for a celebratory drink.

I am still very much in touch with my supervisor and now my friend. We support each other, recommend each other and still try to work with each other whenever possible.  I won’t embarrass him by naming him, but I know that many of my twitter followers are lucky enough to have the same person supervising them.

Take care…

sandra

LISTEN…

IMG_2694Hi Readers

Today’s blog was inspired by two separate catalysts.  The first was the quotation in the photo – this was a sign I was given by a friend for my birthday last month.  It is one of my favourite quotations, from my very favourite book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.  I used the quotation in both my doctoral thesis and in one of the papers leading up to the thesis.

The second catalyst was my husband, Joe.  For many years he has had partial hearing in one ear, and tinnitus in that ear, and partial hearing in the other ear.  Annoying for any one, but for a person with Asperger’s incredibly debilitating, especially in situations where there are high levels of noise.  Unfortunately, for the past couple of weeks, he has had virtually no hearing in the better ear.

Today, after a few days of olive oil drops, he had his ears checked and syringed and he found out he had what seemed to be a 40 year build up of wax in the non-tinnitus ear.  He couldn’t believe the noise levels when he left the doctor’s surgery.

I had never really thought that much about how much he was suffering (and I never use this word lightly) with his lack of hearing.  I moaned when his music or the news was on too high, when he shouted in restaurants or if he made a phone call when he was on the train.   I had never really considered his discomfort from his point of view.

I would consider myself an astute, intelligent and compassionate person; yet I feel ashamed that I hadn’t realised how much this hearing loss was affecting other areas of his life.  It was apparently the cause of constant depression; I knew he had this from time to time, as is quite common for autistic individuals, but I didn’t realise his hearing loss was worsening this.  As I sit here now I think back to situations, to events, to his moods, and I wonder how many of these things were impacted by his hearing loss.   Worse still he had no idea that much of his hearing loss was caused simply by a large lump of ear wax which could have been removed at any time.

If you can’t imagine how this partial deafness feels, think about when you get water in your ears while swimming, or under the shower; he described the loss as being permanently water logged.  I freak out when I get water anywhere near my ears (or other areas of my face for that matter), so I finally understood how bad it had been for him.

My lesson for today then, is to think more of how other people are feeling, or may be ‘suffering’.  Listening to others’ perspectives is so important; not only will we learn new lessons, but we may find ways to help others; surely a wonderful and essential goal for us all?

Until next time…

AUTISM AND FREEMASONRY

Hi Readers

A different subject for you, along with apologies for the tardiness of my blog.

My husband, Joe (also with Asperger’s) is a freemason and has been through the Master’s Chair of his lodge. It was pretty stressful for him (and me), so he took a break following that year. Recently he has returned to active freemasonry and to our shock he is now about to be promoted to grand rank, quicker than most.

I shall attempt to reveal how an autistic person may be affected within freemasonry as general autism statistics would suggest that there are likely to be others like Joe.

Joe had a desire to join freemasonry, because one of his obsessive or narrow interests is history and tradition.   He absorbs facts like a sponge.  He spent many years studying freemasonry and its traditions before contacting Grand Lodge and consequently being introduced to his local Lodge.  He knows more facts about freemasonry than many more experienced freemasons (or brethren as they are called by those ‘in the know’). While some may think this is strange, or even try to belittle him for it, others admire him for his obvious passion and commitment.

He loves the tradition of ritual and the ways it is performed, which I understand he does with military precision.  He has been complimented on this often. He dislikes sloppiness because if there are correct ways to do things, autists believe they should be followed exactly.   They thrive on correctness and routine.  Paradoxically this is where some aspects of freemasonry can be more challenging.

Learning needs to be systematic.  Joe has to learn ritual, one part at a time.  Once he has learned a part, he can then move on to the next part, and then the next part.  It is difficult for him to move around haphazardly before he has learned the words properly.  He will just get confused, panic and then likely miss lodge meetings or practice because he feels overwhelmed.

If there is ‘unrest’ or ‘incident’ at an event it is likely to affect an autistic individual severely. They tend to be either hypo or hyper sensitive and react to situations quite differently, often seen as dramatically, to non autistic individuals.  Autists may find interpreting others’ comments or reactions difficult and can often misread situations.  They can be easily upset especially when they are feeling tired, stressed or panicked by situations.

Social occasions can be overwhelming and you will often find an autistic person sitting alone, calming himself down.   Joe uses a tactic to get over this discomfort, which may be considered unusual for the autistic individual.  He approaches everyone as quickly as he can and speaks to them before they speak to him.  This way he is in control of the situation, what he says, how he needs to react.  It is a way to reduce feeling cornered and under pressure in social situations.  As he is a leader, within top management, within his professional career, this tactic has worked well for him and enables him to network superbly.

I, on the other hand, do the complete opposite given the chance unless I know people, in which case I imitate Joe’s methods if the situation allows me to do so.  Imitation is something autistic individuals do a lot – it is their way to learn how to behave in social situations.

As a freemason’s wife I struggled when Joe first entered the Lodge.  I had to attend lots of social events with people I mostly did not know.   The wives of Joe’s proposer and seconder, were told to look after me.  They did, and they continued to do so throughout most of Joe’s masonic career thus far.

At this point it is worth mentioning that Joe’s masonic break after his Master’s year was forced pretty much for reasons which caused him to become overwhelmed with events which spiralled out of his control, through no fault of his own. We had a fantastic Master’s year, running many events both large and small, and managing to raise £5000 for a local charity supporting children with disabilities and their families.  We had tremendous support from his own Lodge, and from some other Lodges within Kent.

At the end of the year we were both physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and a break was desperately needed by us both. One such event is tiring enough for anyone, a chain of events in just a few months experienced by a couple with autism was a challenge akin to climbing Everest twice in a month.  To add to the pressure I was also in the throes of completing my doctorate in education.

Despite the immense pressures we loved his Master’s year and I loved the dressing up and organising all of the events. Being a dancer and having been part of the competitive world for so long, Ladies Night was made for me.  As the organiser, my social phobias were lessened as I could act a part; be another person.

Autistic individuals can sometimes seem rude and seemingly ignorant.  Often there is a lot going on, lots of noise, lots of talking, lots of information, and autistics become overwhelmed easily.  One way of overcoming this, if it is not possible to leave the situation and find a quiet space, is by ‘switching out’ and appearing to be ignoring what is going on.  It can be a way to avoid sudden rage or episode of anxiety.  Be patient, they will eventually ‘come back’.

You will also find an autist is very exacting about detail; perhaps the directions to a lodge, the invitation to a lodge meeting, what he or she should wear. This is not just them being pedants, but the detail is essential for them to process the situation so that they can accept it as fact.   They will get anxious about travelling, about being told one thing and then it being changed at the last minute.

If you know a freemason who is autistic, this essay may be useful to pass around his or her masonic community. If you know of or are a freemason, this will be useful information for you.  Not everyone is the same and we all need help and support from time to time. Autism is not an excuse; it is simply a difference in the way the brain is wired, which cannot be altered.

You can find Joe’s masonic ‘ramblings’ at www.facebook.com/uniquefreemason or on Twitter @UniqueFreemason

Until next time…

VW Bro Joe Ellis

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS (ACCEPTANCE) WEEK DAYS 4-6 REVELATION

Hi Readers

Having set out at the start of WAAW to blog each day about how autism impacts my life, I came to a standstill on day four and couldn’t find my way to blogging.  It is interesting, I have been blogging about being autistic for many years now although never on a daily, or even necessarily on a weekly basis.  My blogs have been about many things in my life, and not always focusing on autism specifically.  I have never found my blogs to have a direct impact on the way I feel, but this project has done so.

On Tuesday evening, I found myself feeling quite low.  Noting the way I felt all day and how I thought autism impacted me made me feel quite depressed.  Usually I am a very positive person, and looking out for the negatives seemed to bring me down.

I have realised that I don’t dwell on the negatives associated with my autism, but simply focus on the positive effects.  I achieved a lot of work on Tuesday as I tried to forget about noting negatives and used my heightened focus on my work instead.  I overcame feeling low by having a massive cleaning frenzy in my office.  I organised and rearranged, cleaned and cleared and felt tremendously better for it.  Being so productive so early in the day also allowed me the time to go to my zumba class in the evening without feeling I should be doing something else.  On the way I emptied my packed car boot into the local charity bins.  FullSizeRender

I actually think that my more recently simplified lifestyle and positive outlook is helping me deal with the more negative aspects of autism.  I hadn’t realised how much until this week.

On Wednesday Joe and I had a business meeting in the afternoon and lunch out with them.  Although I had spoken to one individual over many years on the telephone, the thought of lunch out with two people I didn’t know filled me with dread.  I only enjoy eating out if I am completely comfortable with the people we are with.  Added to that having to talk business while eating and concentrate for several hours… overload was expected, and I was dreading it.

My other nemesis… having to wear my autism t-shirt with smart workwear.  By now I was hating this t-shirt – the logo (I usually hate logo bearing clothing), the style (I hate high round neck styles), the short sleeves (very unflattering) and the casualness of it.  The only saving grace was the colour purple – my favourite colour.

Actually the people who came to see us were really lovely and friendly.  I still felt awkward but not as much as I expected.  Joe dominated the conversation to start with, regaling stories and ‘jokes’ I had heard hundreds of times over the years, but he was also anxious and it was his way of staying in control.  When the business conversation started my focus began to go.  It was not really something I was interested in although I needed to be.  By then the bright lights of the restaurant had started to really affect me, I felt light headed and much of the conversation flew over my head.  All I wanted to do was leave.  I felt myself smiling in the right places but I remember very little of what was said now – less than 20 hours later.  I was so tired when they had gone, I fell asleep for a couple of hours, and then went to bed two hours earlier than I would normally do.  I even laid in this morning.

It is difficult to describe just how exhausting these situations are: bright lights, background noise, energy needed to eat, energy needed to focus on these people who are telling us lots of information about themselves, the business, decisions to be made, trying to remain polite and cheerful, temperatures going up and down, wanting to go home…  Imagine everything which happens on the first day of your holiday, when you are travelling to a new country by airplane with children.  That’s how just two hours of a business meeting feels to me.  IMG_2382This is how unhappy I was!

IMG_2388I can’t emphasise though how lovely Moira and Noah were; it was not their fault in any way.

This morning I decided I couldn’t keep dwelling on the negatives, and I couldn’t wear the t-shirt again today.  Enough…  I want my own clothes back.  Next year I will get my own autism awareness clothing done… a nice soft sweater or something lovely.

Well what a revelation to me; now I have to think carefully about what to write.  People generally don’t want to be depressed, they want to be inspired.  Hmmmm  I may need to pop out for a vanilla latte and think about this.  Want to know the result of my thinking… sign up to my blog and find out the latest soon.

BTW (by the way), I have been supping on cucumber and lemon infused water all morning – I can highly recommend it.  Yum yum.

Until next time…

 

PS  Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @BealeEllis

 

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS (ACCEPTANCE) WEEK, DAY 3

Hi Readers

The day started well having been brought tea in bed by Joe and a snuggle with my doggies first thing.  I had the house and office to myself today so was looking forward to some productive quiet time. Then it hit me… an email from someone backing out of a deal which had taken a very long time to make.  Hours spent researching, interviewing, and time out to ensure we had the right person to work with us.  All to be let down with a one sentence email.  I am rarely really angry, but this made me so angry.  I had to go out but I was shaking as I drove.

Trying to remain calm I visited my mum; she was having a blind fitted I had offered to buy for her newly painted kitchen.  Really it was about control, as you are becoming more aware, I like to be in control.  IMG_2378Here I am with the ‘blind’ man and a miserable face!

After ranting for ten minutes with my mum about the situation, and then listening to another story about how my dad had been let down by people he trusted, I left hurriedly to go back to work.

When I get angry or feel out of control, it is as if I totally lose my co-ordination.  I literally fell out of the driveway,  toppling forwards, and hurting my neck again which was still painful from yesterday.  This caused me to scream with frustration and pain and my mum came running.  In seconds I went from angry to bursting into floods of tears.  Just the one email that morning had caused such a range of emotions and physical reactions.  It threatened to ruin the entire day I had planned out for myself.

Just one thing changing a planned or routine day for an autistic individual can cause absolute mayhem for hours or days afterwards.  The second point here is that trust takes a long time to build up, and a second to lose.  It can feel like betrayal even if it is simply a difference in perception or someone changing their mind.

It took quite a few hours and some intensive work for me to calm myself to a degree where I could try to resolve the situation in some way.

Photo: in the office looking a bit happierIMG_2380

When I am anxious or annoyed I have a tendency to ‘nest’.  I clean, I tidy, I clear, I paint.  In the office I cleared out drawers and as soon as I got home this evening, I tackled a room in the house which had become really messy and needed a good sort out and clean (not my room I might add).  I felt productive and the clearing was very therapeutic.  Perhaps I should take up clutter clearing as a new business; it would really help with my autistic related anxieties.  I love tearing up piles of paper;  with the continued sound of tearing I can feel negative emotions fade away.   All the way through this task which took some time I talked myself through the day, what had gone wrong, how I could put it right.  If I kept this all inside my head, I would end up mad I am sure.  Apparently ‘they’ (whoever they are) say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.  I personally think that there is so much going on inside an autistic person’s head, that not talking to yourself might make you mad so it is the better option.

As I worked in the office earlier and stamped the date on the work I was sending out, I smiled with satisfaction as I realised the date 4.4.16.  It was a lovely visual pattern, 4, 4 and then 4×4.  In fact this helped me come out of my dark cloud as I wrote this over and over.

I finished the day having watched yet another drama with a new autistic character, Dan, shown to be perceiving language literally which had me smiling again.  Now just to shop online and then to bed for a well earned rest.  Supermarket shopping online saved me wandering around a large crowded brightly lit store at the end of what has been a pretty traumatic day overall.  Now I will just get my food delivered to my kitchen tomorrow morning instead.  Lovely.

Until tomorrow…

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS (ACCEPTANCE) WEEK, DAY 2

Hello Readers

This may be a shorter blog today as I awoke this morning with a stiff and painful neck, shoulders and upper back.  I am struggling to type and use computers and technology today.  The physical pain has caused me to be somewhat grouchy all day, with a propensity to being an ‘awkward’ communicator.

I have been trying to relax for most of the day except for some light housework in an attempt to take my mind off my woes.  When I am feeling out of control, I tend to just wander around the house with no apparent purpose…  touching objects, straightening things, rearranging, and generally wasting time with the ‘small stuff’.  In fact the less control I have the more time I spend wandering, which results in me feeling even less in control.

I tried to do some yoga postures to stretch out my aching muscles, but Rosie followed me onto the mat and made me feel inferior by showing me a much better ‘downward dog’ than my own!  Perhaps she was trying to teach me how it should be done in her unique canine way.  IMG_0079(Rosie has the droopy ears, she is a yorkiepoo).

As you see my humour worsens when I am feeling pain.

Both Joe and I felt our normal routines change today and it affected us both this afternoon.  Joe always washes the cars on a Sunday, but the impending thunderstorm forecast, meant that he rushed to do this in a shorter time period and as a consequence became over anxious and stressy.  The situation was worsened today by me not feeling my usual chirpy self; I usually manage to smooth over the stress in some way without appearing to do so.  I failed miserably today.  Looking on the positive side it could have been a whole lot worse and I appreciate that it wasn’t.

After avoiding it for a couple of weeks, I made the decision this evening to watch The A Word.  I am often upset or annoyed about television which involves autism as it can be very stereotyping, that is there is an awkward teenager ranting loads of numbers, or a young child screaming constantly.  Joe and I watched the first two episodes and I was impressed with the way the story is unfolding.  It reminded me a little of when a family member’s son was diagnosed and the emotions they went and are still going through.  I am looking forward to episode 3 this week.

Sorry to disappoint you all but no photos of me in autism t-shirt today as I went nowhere except for the kitchen to make a delicious roast, and around the house.

Yes, it is true; autism is very much about highs and lows.  I find it difficult to maintain a constant state of being.  Yesterday I was over excited and rushing around all over the place; today not so much.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Until tomorrow…

 

You might want to check out my website www.theautisticvoice.co.uk or buy my book via the website or through Amazon.  You can also follow me on Twitter @BealeEllisIMG_1267

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY Part 2

Good evening Readers

As promised here I am once again to tell you about the impact autism has had on my day one of this project.

The first impact was in the shower; usually even when washing my hair I avoid getting any drops of water on my face.  Today I was loudly singing and not concentrating, and I managed to splash myself in the face.  This caused me to go into sudden hysteria, screeching loudly.  All autistic individuals find there are particular textures or sensations they abhor, and for me water splashes are one of those.  I am equally upset at the hairdressers or dentist; those drills which squirt water or even the cleaning wand used by the hygienist cause me to grip the sides of the chair in absolute agony.  It is not the drill which bothers me but simply the water.  I usually sit with a wad of tissues in my hand ready to dab as necessary, or a towel at the hairdressers.

I also find great discomfort in putting my hands into a bowl or sink of cold water; the sensation is painful to me.    Remember last year’s ice bucket challenges? – absolutely no way would I ever attempt such a thing, or be anywhere near one – I would have to be anaesthetised first!

Once recovered from the shower experience, and getting ready to go for a drive with hubbie Joe, I found myself getting a little anxious at the thought.  While he slowly had breakfast and watched the news, I was rushing around from room to room, making sure I was ready before him, that I had everything we would need for the trip (only into town!), and that the dogs were ‘wee-d’ and fed – all before Joe suddenly announced we were leaving.  Once that happened he would want to leave immediately.  I was excited today as we were going to shop for new sofas so being a little overexcited I danced around the kitchen with Rosie (one of my doggies) before we left.

Once I was in the car, I started to get anxious again; we rarely went for a drive at lunchtime on a Saturday.  Normally we would be teaching.  I was worried about the traffic, the crowds at the shops, finding somewhere for lunch at a weekend, pretty much everything I could be worried about really.  Joe was calm (not always the case) and this helped calm me.  So below are a few photos of the trip.IMG_2360

This was the first shop and I decided to try a recliner sofa.  I pushed the button and the thing zoomed out so fast I went hysterical.  It took ten minutes or so before I stopped laughing and a couple walking past must have thought I was bonkers.  IMG_2367

This second photo is me sitting on the sofa we eventually chose and stroking it.  I love the feel of some textures, and this corduroy was so smooth and plush.  Before we chose this one, I wandered around two stores stroking every sofa we came across.  Joe was more concerned with whether he could lay down on them.  IMG_2368

This was me standing by the sofa we ordered with Manager Terry.  Joe and I schmoozed him for quite a long time and Joe didn’t really let him get a word in as he retold many stories.  After ordering and while we were leaving I came across some cushions which were being sold off.  I fell in love with one which had an old fashioned typewriter printed on it, but no price tag.  Being a little over confident by then I suggested to staff that as there was no price on it, they should give me the cushion free.  To my shock Terry walked over and handed it to me, on the proviso I added it to my blog which I had mentioned earlier.  So, DFS Westwood Cross, Thanet, and especially Manager Terry, thank you.

Off to find something to eat and the traffic by now was so busy.  We managed to keep calm but both of us were really hungry and getting grouchy.  We eventually found a parking space near a café and ordered.  We were the only customers which was worrying but also peaceful.  Usually we avoid eating out at weekends as it tends to be busy, crowded and noisy.  We had left a massive store with lots of bright lights so we were in sensory build up and the quiet café was a refuge.  IMG_2371

Oh heck look at the facial angle – by the end of this week I shall need the number of a plastic surgeon and a therapist!! – Who says we autists can’t make jokes?!  The toasty was a bit hard but tasted good.  IMG_2372

This cake looked lovely but really wasn’t.  The texture was hard and frankly disgusting.  Textures are really important for us.  I love flavours of lots of foods but am often put off by textures; pears for example.  By the way, if this café was not empty, I would not have been sitting with my back to the middle of the room.  I would normally sit with my back to the wall for added security and comfort.  Joe managed to get this favoured position.

We had only been out of the house for four hours, but suddenly both of us just felt exhausted; as if someone had put a pin in us and we deflated.  We were both pretty silent on the way home and as we got out of the car in our driveway, we needed to really concentrate on picking our legs up as if they had lead weights attached to our feet.  The combination of talking, eating and bright lights and heavy traffic seemed to have taken its toll.

For the rest of the evening, except for dinner, we separated into different rooms to enjoy much needed quiet time without having to converse or be polite.  At least for us, both being autistic, we understand how much the other needs this quiet time.  This time is not just nice, it is absolutely necessary in order for us to maintain a relationship and a ‘normal’ life together.   Joe will often be on his tablet in one room, while I snuggle with the dogs, reading in another.

And so to end my evening in a calm way, I shall finish this blog and pop into my sanctuary for a while; a room which has been converted to my yoga room; where there is a shrine to meditation which is something which has transformed my life over the past two years.  My deep anxieties are nowhere as bad as they once were, or at least not as often.  I shall leave this aspect to discuss later in the week.

Now as is my daily routine, after some meditation, I shall have a cup of camomile tea and retire as soon as my body tells me it is ready.

Until tomorrow my readers…

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS (ACCEPTANCE) DAY

4Hello Readers

So, be prepared… for the next week, I shall be posting a daily blog (today two), detailing how autism impacts my life; the good, the bad and the ugly.  I shall be wearing my #autism t-shirt to every event or activity I leave the house for, and some within ( I have to wash it sometime or I would be very smelly by next weekend!).  The photo here was taken last year with Jake as our children’s classes are on holidays this week.

So far today my poor dogs had a delayed breakfast as I decided to update all my social media platforms with postings about autism awareness and promoting my book Autism and Martial Arts: A Guide for Children, Parents and Teachers.  It can be found on Amazon or ordered through my website www.theautisticvoice.co.uk  This website is currently being redesigned which is so exciting.  I am also working on some video blogs and will keep you updated as these are developed.

I awoke in a foggy daze this morning as the central heating had kicked in and any kind of heat during my sleep always affects me negatively.  It is actually the smell of the heat which wakes me initially.  People usually can’t understand this but any autistic individuals out there reading this will probably know what I mean.  My fault for sleeping in today; usually I would have been out and teaching by that time.

Stay tuned, I will be back this evening with my day…

 

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