Sunday, 23 August 2015

Summer thunderstorms and a revelation

The sky is a swirling mass of greys, whites and blues with the occasional flash of lightning.

Yes. It's August and I am finally feeling settled enough to write a blog post. It's been a while. My last post was back at the start of May shortly after being told I was being let go just after my first Sherlock convention.

WARNING: It's a long post. Get a cup of tea. I talk about autism.

I've never been made redundant after being in the same place for so long, always either terminating a temping contract myself, being told I wasn't suitable in a temp role or resigning so it was a first experience. I managed a final team meal and drink on my last day which was lovely and mostly managed to keep it all together.

I have been temping since the start of June with just a Friday off before I began agency work. I am now on my third temping role and feel I might be settling in for a few months which is when things will be reviewed again.

I also went back to my GP after going to her in December of last year suggesting I might have mild autism. I felt bolder as a result of being on my medication and seemed to be in the mood to sort things out personally.

This time I spent longer talking to her and refused to budge when the inevitable "but you seem alright. I meet others with worse autism and they don't even know they're autistic" comment arose. I dug my heels in saying my sister had been diagnosed and that a lot of situations seemed to be happening which seemed to align with a classic case of Aspergers syndrome in my work life as well as my personal life. She asked me what I thought a diagnosis would bring and whether I thought it would change things. I answered that my sister seemed to have a much higher understanding of herself and had just got married. I said it had helped me to understand why sometimes we seemed to get wires crossed and be unforgiving, despite an initial period of anger with her after her diagnosis had quelled.

This seemed to work. I spoke positively about my sister and how she had adapted her life and that I was concentrating on staying in work. Sometimes mental health professionals are very sarcastic about the reason why you want a diagnosis. They sometimes think it's an excuse to go off sick from work and go on to benefits so I have been careful to keep all my conversations very work focussed. I am continually seeing examples of how autistic I am demonstrated clearly at work. How people's expectations of me are very high but I get tripped up by bullies, how I can't make small talk, how I feel in a busy office, etc.

So eventually, after six pages of A4 notes had been handwritten about me (my mother prefers to handwrite notes) as a child by my mum and after which autistic traits I had displayed strongly had been listed and handed in, I waited to see what would happen.

I received an appointment for a pre-diagnostic assessment very quickly. They seemed to have a sense of incredible urgency about them. I then attended and have been referred for a full assessment including family members. Strange for someone who doesn't really need a diagnosis, huh?

Anyway, I won't criticise the NHS but I do feel the resistance to give any kind of diagnosis other than a mental health related one is a little shocking. It's all to do with money in my view - receiving it from anti-depressant companies for mental health and having to pay for other diagnoses like autism. Well, sorry if I've cost the NHS money but Aspergers syndrome is so serious it's classed as a disability so **** you.

I thought about writing a post about how you can deal with someone with Aspergers syndrome. If I was neurotypical (someone without autism) I would love that, so here are a few tips:

1. Don't crowd someone with Asperger's. Aspie people tend to like to talk to one person at a time. I need to watch someone's face and body language intently. I can't do this with two or three people. Keeping track of a group conversation is hard. I can manage it but my word it drains me.

2. Don't shout or pop balloons or blow a whistle around an aspie. I find noise tolerable but wearing. Sudden noises are awful. I always know when someone with autistic traits has clued into the fact that I'm sensitive and wants to bully me - they make sudden loud noises. I have been bullied in this way.

3. I like anything repetitive. If we spoke about planes last time we spoke and I liked it then talk about planes again.

4. If I talk about the same subject at length then please try and cut the conversation short politely.

5. Don't be offended if I walk past you without eye contact or saying hi. Please don't think I'm rude. I sometimes don't see the point if we've already said hi or if I only saw you the previous afternoon.

6. Don't touch an aspie. Don't slap my back or place your hand on my shoulders. This has happened to me at work and it really really stressed me out so much.

There is loads of information on the National Autistic Society website. You can also donate through this website. I have had to stay on hold for two hours to speak to someone on their helpline which has changed my life a little.

I have been knitting quite a bit - I'm knitting a present for a friend and am over halfway through the purple cushion knitted with some yarn my sister spun for me for Christmas.

My blanket has been folded up since June - it's cool enough to knit small things but it's a little bit too hefty now. I will start again in September I'm sure.

Thank you for all the support in between posts. Thank you to all my new followers over on Facebook. It's been really nice to feel missed. I will hopefully decrease the distance between posts from now on.
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