Asperger’s and Enrichment (My Sixth Form Transition)

flatlay photography of wireless headphones

When I got back to school in sixth form after so long off, it was weird. Everyone had raved about the jump from GCSEs to A levels, how much harder it would be. But personally, at the start of the year, I was surprised. I didn’t find my subjects (English Literature, History and Spanish) all that difficult, and I kept on top of work fine. If anything, I was a bit bored. 

It became apparent that I’d gone in expecting it to be much harder than it was, and part of that, I believe, was because I’d sort of settled into the level of stress that I’d experienced at the end of the GCSE course. Due to the COVID rearrangements, I didn’t do my exams, but rather ‘in-class assessments’, which were basically exams only there were twice as many and they were stretched out over a period of six weeks. Therefore, I’d gotten used to functioning at that extremely high level of stress, doing tons of revision, constantly, almost on the edge of burnout. So the return to a ‘normal’, baseline workload at the start of year 12 came as something of a surprise. 

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Asperger’s and COVID-19.

The pandemic has been a turbulent time for all of us, so I wanted to talk a little bit about my experience of being on the spectrum during lockdown and how COVID has affected me as an aspie. 

Before the first lockdown, I was in quite a bit of denial about what the pandemic was going to entail. I don’t follow the news, so the first I heard about COVID was from school gossip. When my peers expressed the sentiment that the school would close due to the pandemic, I dismissed it out of hand. The school, close? That was unthinkable. School was foundational to my routines. In my mind, it was impossible that it should close…

And then we all know what happened. 

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Asperger’s and Birthdays – an autistic perspective

Birthdays can be a difficult time for people with aspergers. Both our own birthdays, as well as the birthdays of other people pose challenges, most of which are tied in with our difficulty in understanding neurotypical social nuances, but which also come from the neurotypical perception of our own behaviours.

Because autistic brains have difficulty picking up on social cues, it can be difficult for aspies to decode the hints you drop about what presents you want, even more so because we can find it difficult to put ourselves into the perspective of other people, especially neurotypical people. The message here then is that it’s generally best to be upfront with an aspie if you expect to receive a present from them – it makes our lives easier, and you’re more likely to receive a present which you actually want!

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Chapter 1 Part 2: New Faces

Part 2 of the first chapter of my WIP novel. Click here or visit my recent posts to see part 1. Likes and follows greatly appreciated, as is any constructive feedback!

“Gentlemen,” a male voice said sharply, coming from behind Max.

In front of Max, Lane stopped, straightening up with a scowl. Max turned around sharply. A man in his fifties, wearing a crisp black suit with a tie the same shade of grey as his hair, stood in the doorway to the next room, to the left of the marble fireplace, with an expression of mild exasperation. 

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Autism & Empathy

There’s a misconception that autistics don’t feel empathy. While every autistic experience varies, personally I have found that although I do sometimes struggle with empathy, the issue more often comes from the fact that I am intensely empathetic, but I lack the instinctive social skills to express that empathy. But before we get into that, let’s remind ourselves of some definitions, just so we’re clear:

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Chapter 1: His Sister’s Envoy

This is the opening from one of my WIP (work in progress) novels. I plan to post following chapters in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy. Constructive feedback, likes and follows are greatly appreciated.

(Yes, one character in particular was inspired by the Netflix version of The Umbrella Academy: no points for guessing who).

Max put his earbuds in, deliberately breathing slowly, tying up his heartbeat to the rhythm of the music. He dared a glance sideways. The boy leant against the wall adjacent to the counter, arms folded, watching Max and pretending that he wasn’t.

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Short Story – Friends Like These

Note: This fictional story is a departure from my usual content in that it is not related to my ASD. I have aspirations of becoming an author/novel editor, and so I plan to use this blog to upload some of my creative writing in addition to my usual posts. This short story does form part of a wider fantasy narrative I’ve constructed, but still functions as a stand-alone. I would welcome any comments and feedback!

Friends Like These

I still have no idea how Wilbur managed to get us those jobs, working as servants for the wealthiest guy in the area. William Rainier was an unknown; a dark horse millionaire, appearing one day having just bought a string of three-story properties on the main street. But now, as we walked down the street in our stiff-collared uniforms, Wilbur’s still always somehow neater than mine, fitting him better where mine hung loose, I supposed I should be grateful for Wilbur’s knack for talking his way into things. The pay was good: we could afford decent food for the first time in a while. We had modest accommodation now. It beat being on the streets, and the risky business of pickpocketing. 

Of course, it still wasn’t enough for Wilbur. Nothing was ever enough for Wilbur. 

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Surviving a Cambridge Residential – Tips for managing autism and anxiety.

Recently I had the privilege of going on a two day, overnight residential visit to Trinity Hall College at Cambridge University, organised by my sixth form. When I received the letter informing me that I had a chance to go, I was both excited and nervous. On one hand, it was undeniably a great opportunity – a chance to go to one of the most famous universities, potentially somewhere I might apply to in future. On the other hand, it was an overnight stay in an unfamiliar place 4 hours away from home with unfamiliar people. In other words, an anxiety-inducing nightmare of a prospect, especially with me being autistic.

And yet, here I am. I survived! So here’s some of the strategies which I used to manage my autism on this trip, which helped me, and which will also hopefully help you, to not only survive the trip (or similar situations), but to come out the other side feeling so much more confident and capable in taking on new opportunities going forward. I’ll also be giving a run down of what happened on my trip, for any of those interested in what university residentials are like.

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Volunteering at West of England Falconry Centre

Florence, the Burrowing Owl, in her aviary. (During my second week, Florence decided to attack my shoelaces and succeeded in shredding tiny holes in the bottom of my trousers – thanks for that, Flo.)

Given that I am someone who has zero aspirations to go into veterinary sciences or to work with animals, it may seem slightly odd that I decided to volunteer at a falconry centre. But (generally) I do like animals and this seemed a reasonable opportunity to do some work experience. As an aspie, it initially seemed a daunting prospect, what with my social anxiety, but I’ve found that it’s been an incredibly supportive environment and has been incredibly enjoyable.

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Retrospective on The Guilt Complex

I posted The Guilt Complex in 2018. Here we are now in 2021, and I believe that with my few years more experience of living and existing and all that nonsense, I’ve come to have a bit more insight about my own emotions.

First of all, for anyone who looked at that post and felt that they experienced a similar thing – let me tell you right now: it gets better. I don’t know how, I don’t know exactly why, but let’s just say that maturity seems to be this intangible thing where one day you realise that actually your worth doesn’t depend on your always being in the right.

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