Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category


This is a three part interview I did in 2011 on how I live with Asperger’s. I hope you like it and welcome any comments you may have.

Thanks

Andy


He remembers that first day at school

On a cold September morn as his mother

Let go of his hand for the first time and let it

Drop to the floor, kissed him on the forehead,

Turned around and left him there alone for the

First time in a field of unfamiliar faces, a

Landscape of slow motion figures, revolving

Around him like a L.S. Lowry painting and then

They see him, a gaggle of kids looking for the

Vulnerable, those alone, easy meat to pick on,

Waiting to strike them, destroy them in the blink of an

Eye before anyone notices what is happening

And then they begin their attack, moving slowly,

Encircling their prey like a pack of wild chimps

Ready for the right moment to set about their

Victim, and he is alone in a wall of noise as

Figures past by not seeing him, avoiding him

Not wanting to be there when they tear into him,

And the first punch comes from nowhere and he

Falls to the cold, dark ocean of asphalt, his body

Sinking deep into it before rebounding ready for the

Next kick as faceless objects peer down at him

Laughing, mocking, enjoying seeing him in

Confusion and pain, asking why, why, why,

And the beating begins like a shower of meteor’s

Ripping into the earth from everywhere and

Then it stops as the clock strikes ten and this

Asphalt space is devoid of life,

No more noise, no more movement,

No more beating’s, and he lays on the skin

Of the earth the only sign of humanity in

This violent landscape


How she longs to feel his body next to

Hers once again, to be pulled so

Close to him that they become one

And she can feel his skin breathing

On hers, his heartbeat pulsing through

The tips of his fingers as they bathe in

Pools of morning dew created by a storm

Of passion, so intense, so ferocious, that

 

The very essence of the planet permeates

Their souls as their spirits entwine and become

One, creating seismic eruptions as universes are

Torn asunder creating a heavenly performance

Of dancing stars that follow the rhythmic beat of

Two hearts hammering out a message of

Longing to be near each other, to hear each other,

Smell each other, taste each other

 

Just one more time

 


From a world of overwhelment

Where every Sound

Every Movement

Every smell

Is a

Mindful distraction

Of a life that

Never stops

Never sleeps

Only ends

To the serenity

And solitude of

Nature and a

World created by

Forces unknown, unseen

Understanding

The needs of man and

Allowing him to

Live peacefully

Calmly

Restfully

At last

 


A car drives up the side of a wall

And the driver smiles at me

Through teeth of sugary diamonds

While a man invites me into an

Office with no walls but still a

Door opens and I am

Running through streets of chocolate

Running, running, running

Effortlessly through the Milky Way

And the turn leads into a

Factory made of lego

Making itself

And I’m lost in a maze

Of plastic people

And run into a lift

That isn’t there

But is crashing down from above

Panic, panic, panic

Death by plastic chocolate

But a hand rescues me

And I’m in the office of the boss

Here’s the pass I need to

Wake me from this dream

And freedom

For my mind

At least

 


the means to live life

rise like a tsunami

rushing in from afar

at an unstoppable pace

attacking humanity

destroying those who

get in it’s way

whilst the means

to pay for them

diminish and recede

like the

sands of time

getting further and further

out of the reach

of those who

need it most

 


I thought this inspiring story of how a young man with autism made a special bond with a barista showed how differences can be overcome with a little understanding. http://m.lancasteronline.com/lifestyle/aaron-and-anisa-young-man-with-autism-forms-special-bond/article_20a01f66-2941-11e4-9d24-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm#.U_3uOCFsQec.facebook


Stood in a room

Surrounded by noise

Coming from walls

From glass, from lights

From people

But no words reach me

An indecipherable sound

A tsunami of noise

An avalanche of words

Nothing makes sense

I’m struggling to hear

To comprehend

To pick the words out

But the sentence is lost

All meaning is gone

I’m alone in a room

Full of people

Surrounded by noise

In the middle of a vortex

The eye of the tornado

As life goes on around me

Without me

 


The next area to examine is environment and the effect it can have on a person with AS. The environment a person with AS finds themselves in can and does have a very profound effect on their ability to function and perform at a reasonable level on a daily basis. This is because many if not all people on the autistic spectrum have issues with sensory sensitivity and the environment they find themselves in can and does have an effect on them to varying degrees (National Autistic Society, 2014). Whilst NT people have the ability to block out and ignore background noise, lights, movement, smells and tastes, to name a small selection, people on the autistic spectrum have tremendous difficulty in blocking out and ignoring these sensations.

An example of this and one of the reasons I chose the University of Huddersfield over the University of Bradford or the University of Leeds is the location and size of the town.

The University of Leeds would have been the most obvious choice to go to because of its size, location and reputation. Yet for me, it was the size and location that I found off-putting and perceived it as causing me the most distress. The size of Leeds was, I found, very overwhelming and I could not fit it into my mind. It was simply too big for me to comprehend and this was extremely off putting for me. Because of its size I visualised that I would find it difficult to navigate and that there would be many moments of sensory overload for me because of this. Travelling to Leeds would cause me similar problems because of the distance from my house to the university and if I was running late this would increase my stress and anxiety levels and leaves me close to breakdown.

The University of Bradford seemed too close and too familiar, although on reflection if I had thought about it more logically rather than believing that I need to challenge myself constantly in order to improve, it might have been the more logical choice based on proximity and familiarity of location.

The University of Huddersfield was from the point of view of physical environment view ideal for me as a university to study at. Huddersfield is close enough for me to travel to, and the town centre is a perfect size and shape for me to get around. This reduces my chances of being subjected to sensory overload and in turn reduces my chances of my levels of stress and anxiety getting too high for me to cope with. The same applies to the campus. Again this is quite small for a university and this makes it easier for me to cope with because I do not get overwhelmed by it. I can visualise both the town centre and the university campus in my mind and this makes it a lot easier for me to cope with.

When I go to a classroom or a lecture theatre I try and visualise what they will look like in advance so that I am prepared for the environment I am entering, even if I have never been in that environment before. This is to help me to mentally prepare for the lesson or lecture and reduce the time I have to spend getting familiar with my environment. Then rather than spending time looking around taking in my environment I can concentrate on the lesson or lecture. The visualisation is based on both personal experience and from watching television programmes and building up a database in my mind of the kind of environment that I can expect when I enter a classroom. For the most part this is quite accurate.

On occasion I have been thrown when the environment was not what I expected, but I have learnt to be more flexible in my thinking and anticipate different shapes and sizes of classroom and lecture theatre. One of the problems I have encountered at university is noisy lecture theatres. Some lecturers are not quite as good as controlling a lecture theatre and maintaining order. In these cases the noise levels have become overwhelmingly unbearable and this has resulted in my having to make other arrangements in order to continue studying. During these episodes students are just talking loudly whilst I am trying to work. This overloads my sensory sensitivity and I go into meltdown because I cannot cope with all the noise and trying to study as well.

Another environment which can cause difficulty for people on the autistic spectrum is where to study when doing revision or assignments. For me studying at home is not conducive to either task because of the distractions there such as television, housework, computer games and pub for example. Whilst on the surface this may sound normal and just an excuse for myself and I suspect many others on the spectrum it is a very serious matter.

On the one hand there is the need and desire to get the work done. On the other hand there is the need for balance in order to avoid burnout. What frequently happens is work is started and then I have a break. When I go back I cannot get started again and this leads to feelings of guilt, lack of confidence, frustration and anger amongst others at not being able to do the task in hand. The main issue here is that these other emotions take over and once again my system is overloaded and I cannot cope and function as I want to do. The end result is that nothing gets done and this merely exacerbates the problem even more. Because the concept of the home as a place of relaxation has been in my mind for so many years, it is now a very difficult concept to change.

However I have found some solace in a scheme called The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL). This scheme allows a student or other member of a university to use the library facilities of another university. For myself I use the library facilities at Bradford University to study in. This is a revelation for me. I have an environment in which to study which is close to home, quiet, spacious, safe and has all the books and materials I need to study effectively.

I have had only two issues here. One was where I studied and there was a lot of noise. This was my fault because I had not read the floor plan correctly and had gone to an area where talking was allowed. The other was where I went in one day and my usual spot was taken. At first it did throw me but I have now told myself that at certain times during the year I cannot expect certain spots to be empty and I will have to sit wherever I can. This is an environment where I can visualise myself learning and studying and my grades have shown a marked improvement since I started using this facility in February 2014.

Now I have an environment I can go to where you are expected to study. I can concentrate on my work and my senses do not get overwhelmed. I can also get out of the house which can get lonely and depressing from time to time and be in a different environment surrounded by people. Over the summer break I intend to make the most of the library facilities by catching up on my subjects and using the time to plan my dissertation and subject modules. What the issue is here is that the university should make students more aware of this facility because it can make such an immense difference to how a student performs and the grades that they achieve.

Copyright © Andrew Smith 2014


lives are lived on slabs of

concrete as grey as the

sky filled with tears on an

autumnal August day

and sticks of life

run around a ball

spinning in space

that never ever

reaches its goal