Friday, 21 November 2014

Big Change! Huge Change! Also I'm back!

Hello guys! It's been so long! 287 days! And yet my view counter says people have actually been looking at this blog, so I know I'm saying hello to real people.

So, first, excuse the ridiculous time on this post, I'm having a little trouble sleeping right now.

Second, there's been a lot of change recently! Independently-living-uni-going-socialising-friend-making-totally-actually-an-adult-now change! Since my last blog, so much has happened. I may post more on all this stuff soon, but here are the quick highlights roughly in order:

I'm 18 now
Go me! Officially an adult, and absolutely no more mature for it.

I made it to university
It took a lot of effort, hard work, possible swearing and definite shouting, but I got the grades I needed (mostly) and made it to Glasgow University! The only place I've ever seen with great 19th century architecture right next to the ugliest building in the world.

I'm living (almost) independently
The more observant of you may have noticed that my home in the north east of England isn't quite next door to Glasgow, so I'm now living there. With people I had never even met until September!

I'm making friends...
I'll admit, I was absolutely terrified of coming here and meeting people, but everyone seems so nice! I've made some good friends really fast, and a couple of close friends who I hope will stick around basically forever.

... And not melting down!
Yes, despite all the massive change, and the socialising from scratch without any fall back plan, I'm surviving. There are a few problems, but my friends are really understanding and supportive, so I think everything will be fine.

As you can see, there's just so much been going on that I feel like my massive overuse of exclamation marks may be somewhat justified. I'll hopefully be posting more soon, and might even keep to my biweekly Wednesday-Saturday schedule. I have so much to say, and my new experiences have opened a whole new world of things to talk about.

See you all later!

Now, let's see if I can finally get some sleeeeeeeee....

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Input Overload! - Intense World Theory

Last week I discussed how empathy works in people like me, and why we aren't as 'unfeeling' as the general public seems to think. But I stopped short of explaining a possible reason for why the difference in empathic ability exists in the first place. Why? Well, to be honest I'd been researching and typing for nigh two hours, and really wanted to get the post out. Mostly though, it was because I knew that if I continued, I'd be there another two hours, and the post would have been far too long for comfortable reading, so I decided to split it in two. After all, that's the reason they decided to make The Hobbit into three films, right? Nothing to do with money at all...

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

I Feel You - Emotional And Cognitive Empathy

Author's Note: I must apologise in advance seem overly emotional at any point in this piece. I'll do my best to remain completely neutral, but it's a subject I feel very strongly about and I hate some of the misunderstandings the general public have about it.

Empathy. Apart from general social difficulties and anxiety, this is probably the most talked about part of Asperger's and autism. The general consensus seems to be that autistic people lack empathy, and are unable to tell how others are feeling. To put it bluntly, I think that's flat wrong, at least for the most part. I, and other autistic individuals, are nearly all perfectly capable of feeling other people's emotions, we can just have some difficulty recognising that emotion, like reading it from body language. So I think I should start with a few definitions.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Mini Update: The Posts Are Coming

Yes, yes, I said I'd stick to my schedule and I haven't. But I do have a post half typed out and another one in the planning stages. I may also make an extra one to make up for last week. I was just so caught up in doing my EPQ for college that I literally ran out of time to create a post.

On a side note, it seems that a lot of Aspies apologise either too much or too little, because it's so hard to read the social cues for the correct response. I think I err on the side of caution and apologise a little too much, but I have one friend who apologises for almost everything, day in, day out. It's like 'I'm sorry but...' is an instinctive part of his speech patterns. Maybe I'll elaborate on the topic sometime.

See you guys soon,


Saturday, 18 January 2014

It's Saturday! You know what that means...

Yeah. It means I have to do my Saturday post. I really should have planned this better, I haven't given myself enough time to get things done this week. So, what to talk about...

Let's talk about music! I did say my Saturday posts won't necessarily be about autism, or even be serious at all. But don't worry, Wednesdays will be as fact filled and informative as I can manage.

Music is an interesting thing. Done properly, it can cause total mood changes, bring people out of moods, put other people in them, and do many other things. People argue over the different genres, and even about definitions within particular genres. In fact, some of the most vicious arguments I've seen have been about whether a particular band should be in this genre or that one.

So what is it about music that gets people going? And why do people like different kinds? Is it the rhythm? The particular sequences of notes? The sense of community gained from listening to the same music as other people? I suppose it's probably a mix of them all.

Personally, I'm a big fan of music. I like a lot of different types, from old pop to a little bit of classical, but the bulk of my collection is composed of rock and metal. It seems quite a few people think that's an odd choice for someone who is as 'academic' as me, but I tend to think the opposite. For me, rock and metal have a complexity and structure that mainstream music like radio pop just doesn't. I don't want to listen to people who are guaranteed a top 10 hit by releasing the same thing over and over, I want to listen to music with depth and focus. Music that was made to be popular just doesn't appeal to me at all.

Of course, not all modern pop is like that, some of the singers are genuinely moving and sincere, especially the singer-songwriters. It happens that I don't personally like most of their work, but I appreciate and respect it. The same goes for rock, there are a lot of bands who also put out the same thing over and over again. Unsurprisingly, again they are the most likely to be heard on the radio. Nickelback I'm looking at you.

So, other than the style and sincerity of the music I like, what else makes me like it? I suspect the biggest reason is obvious when you take a step back and look. It's my friends. Most of my friends like rock and metal, hence I do also. I'd assume that's why mainstream pop is so popular. If a large group of people like it, other people can like it and fit in, thus attracting ever more people. For mainstream pop it also helps that there's practically nothing else on the radio. The stuff is unavoidable! It would certainly be a lot easier to just listen to it and be done with it.

I think that people should listen to whatever music they like, whatever makes them feel happy. Or feel anything really, depending on what they're after. I just wish they could find it themselves, rather than having mass marketed noises parceled up and thrown at them constantly.

So, that's my two pence for the day. I hope you don't mind me having opinions on Saturdays; it's often said that the internet is the worst place to have an opinion. Anyway, that's it for the day, see you on Wednesday!


Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year's Resolution! Sort of...

Happy new year! We made it through another year! Except this time, nothing much seemed to happen, especially compared to 2012, which was filled with all kinds of much more exciting stuff.

Anyway, hi guys. I know, I know, I'm not only almost two weeks late for new year, but it's been nearly 2 months since the last time I posted. But it's 2014 now, and I have a plan! I can hear you all now, 'You said you had a plan last time, and look how that went.'. Well, alright, but it's still 2014 now. I'd say my plan is a new year's resolution, but it's more just a plan that happened to start near new year. It could have been a July plan, or a November plan, but instead my brain decided to drop it on me while I was looking the other way over Christmas. So here we are, with a plan.

Now, on to the actual plan.

THE PLAN! *cue fanfare*

Wow, you can really tell this is quite an informal post now...
So, the plan is, I'm going to post exactly twice a week. Ok, I might do more, because I sometimes have ideas that I just have to do at that moment, but I won't do less, because otherwise you people will hunt me down and kill me for not posting. Again. I'm thinking that the posts will be on Wednesdays and Saturdays, starting next week, and each will be a different topic. Sort of like this:

The Wednesday:
The midweek post, to get some thought going in the middle of the week, when Friday is literally as far ahead as Monday is behind. This post will be the explanatory, or informative post, where I explain a particular part of living with Asperger's, and maybe coping strategies. This will probably be quite a well thought out post, maybe typed up over a couple of days.

The fun Saturday night, where everyone just wants to kick back, relax, and forget that Monday morning is only 36 hours away. This will be either an opinion piece about something I've heard, or a Thoughtsplat, or just something related to autism that I find interesting. You know, just a bit of a freeform thing to read on a Saturday evening.

Any extra posts:
Anything else that takes my fancy really. Something big that can't wait until next week, or an extra opinion piece, or basically pretty much anything. I think extra posts will generally not be based on autism and Asperger's, they'll most likely be interests of mine instead, like art or something to do with technology.

I'm thinking around 6pm GMT, seems to be a time when most of my readers are around to see it, anyone at work will get back when it goes up, in the US it'll be nearer the middle of a day to match a lunch break, things like that. It also gives me time to work on it a bit in college.

There we go then; my blogging plan for the year ahead. Now, I'm really quite good at planning, but no one ever believes me. Mostly because I'm absolutely terrible at following through on said plans, as you may have noticed. So, I've come up with a solution. I'm going to tell my friends who are interested in this blog to tell me to do my posts on time. That way, I can't get annoyed at them and rebel when they tell me to post, because I've already told them to tell me. Make sense? Hopefully, it'll be so confusing to my subconscious that it'll tie itself in knots and let me get on with posting.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and new year, and I'll see you on Wednesday!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Busy Busy Busy! Vlogging and Self Advocacy

As has become the norm for me, as soon as I published my last post I promptly became so busyand forgetful that I immediately forgot to update this blog for the next three weeks. But I'm finally back! No idea if I'll be back for long, or if I'll just end up disappearing again, but I'm here for now at least.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

An Idea!

I say this far too often, but once again, it's been too long since my last blog! I've been busy ok. No, really, since my last blog I've spent half a holiday being 'independent' (ok, so my parents went away and I survived without dying in the house), and a weekend in Scotland with my friends (again, travelling 100 miles on public transport with just my friend and not having some kind of meltdown!) and now I've finished(ish) my UCAS application and I'll be sending it off soon. Ok, that sentence was far too long. But who cares, it was a great week! You know, for someone who dislikes change and is terrified of doing things by myself, I really enjoy doing all these new things... How does that even work? Ideas in the comments!

Anyway, I shall describe that all in more detail at a later date (probably), because right now I have an idea! Ok, it's not technically a new idea, because it was actually the original idea for this blog. I want to make a vlog. That way, I get to say a lot more in less time, with a potentially much larger audience. And you all get to see me, instead of reading my words on a page. I'll still have my blog for the readers here, and all the ideas and advice and things I have about Asperger's and autism, but I really think a vlog could be a great sort of outlet for me. I'm not entirely sure how I'd juggle between the two, but even if I become (even) less active here, I'll at least post all the vlogs. Maybe it would also help people more, actually seeing someone with Asperger's talking, rather than reading their words? I'm not aware of any Aspie vloggers right now, though I'm sure there are some...

Sorry for all the non-ASD related posts recently, but I do use this as a kind of story of my life alongside the advice and things, and there's been a lot going on recently.

See you guys soon (and maybe you'll see me!)


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Word On Scottish Universities For Those In England

Being in my last year of sixth form college, I'm now nearing completion of my UCAS form, ready for it to be sent off to UCAS for them to apply to my five choices of university. So you'd think that by now, I'd know everything I need to about my choices, right? That's what I thought too, until I visited Glasgow University last weekend.

Glasgow has been one of my choices for a while now, but it's always been sitting under Sheffield, as I consider Sheffield to be as near perfect as I could find for a combination of computer science course, accommodation, city and activities. I also wasn't so keen on studying one subject for the four years in Scotland, rather than three years in England. Except that's not how it works.

It would seem that, at least in my area, the people who advise us college students on university choices seem to have forgotten to explain (or simply don't know) how the Scottish system works. It allows for study of three subjects from the same 'School' (eg. The sciences) in your first year of study, followed by two in the second year, and then your chosen degree subject in more depth for the remaining two years. The final degree subject, other than having to be one of your original three subjects doesn't have to be picked until the end of the second year, allowing for far more flexibility than the 'one subject until the end' system we have in England.

As I've said, I don't know if I didn't find this out because the advisers didn't know themselves, or because they just didn't tell us. I guess I'll find out when I ask after half term. Either way this is a complete game changer. After looking into it, it seems the Scottish system is widely recognised as being superior to ours, and other countries (including the US) have emulated it. (I wouldn't like to speculate, but maybe we weren't told so we wouldn't 'defect' to Scotland? Shh, I didn't say that).

Glasgow is now my first choice for university. It could hardly be anything but, considering the massive flexibility compared to Sheffield, Leeds, and all my other English choices. I have to say, it's not the fault of those unis, they are great, but they can only do so well in an inferior system before they hit a ceiling. The applications process is far better as well, with just one simple change. Instead of looking at my predicted grades and thinking 'based on these (nonexistent, purely predicted, like the weather) grades, he might not make it', and basing their choice on whether to give me an offer on that, Glasgow will instead just make sure I'm studying the right subjects and immediately offer the place, allowing me to achieve (or fail) the grades in my own right, rather than basing their choice on something a computer algorithm came out with.

I don't mean to sound harsh towards the English system, or the staff who didn't tell me about the Scottish system, but it really was almost too late for me to find out. Still, it's sorted now, and hopefully I'll get in. Incidentally, Glasgow is ranked higher than Sheffield. Just saying.

Tall again soon,

PS. Sorry for the delay. I've written about five halves of posts and been unable to finish them due to a bit of writer's block. And then as you can see I've been busy recently. Hopefully all will be back to normal soon.

PPS. This post was entirely created on my phone, so please forgive the lack of links and creative editing.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Going To Scotland! And A Couple Of Other Things.

The place I'm going to is in this picture
Yup. Title says it all really, need I say more? Alright alright, since this is actually a blog post, I guess I better explain. Me and my friend are going up to see our new Scottish friends, one of whom is in fact his girlfriend. Lucky git. We're going up in a couple of weeks, when it's our half term holiday. It won't be theirs though, which is why we're going a weekend. Just after Halloween in fact, so I'll let you guys work out the dates. I've already said how much I love Scotland, but my friend hasn't so much as set foot North of the border before. This is gonna be interesting.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Panic Stations!

So now I've caught your attention with the title (and the graphic! I'd like to point out I'm not female...), am I in danger? Am I about to hit a big giant problem wall and go splat? Or maybe there's a test coming and I'm completely unprepared? Nope, nothing. But any day could turn into something that feels like that, if the right triggers happen.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Thoughtsplat! #2 - Scotland

Scotland The Brave!
It's been far too long since my last (and first) Thoughtsplat!, but here we are with another one, finally! If you can't remember what a Thoughtsplat! is, or you're new, follow the link above. I think it's probably pretty easy to guess this splat's topic, what with the flag picture and the title. Yes, it's that great country just north of me, Scotland!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Mental Health Day 2013 - A Little Talk On People's Views

So here I am, sitting watching Waterloo Road, when suddenly I realise, I haven't done a blog today! Now normally, theres nothing wrong with that. But today is World Mental Health Day, and I have to write something at least.

Every year, 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental illness. Some of these are lifetime, like me and others with Asperger's and autism, and some last less time, like depression. But the one thing we all have in common is the feeling of difference. That theres something not quite right, or odd. This is where everyone else comes in. Either people accept the difference, and help them, and learn to understand, or they discriminate. More and more people are choosing to help, but it can still be a problem.

I'm always told that I'm 'brave', because I openly discuss my Asperger's,  and I freely talk about it. But I dont feel brave or courageous because of it. I do it because I want to help others understand, and because it's easier to cope when other people know what I'm dealing with. I'm surrounded by supportive friends and family, many of whom have their own difficulties, and can at least relate to my situation. But a lot of people don't have that luxury. They're around people who either don't understand, or don't want to. I want to live in a world where it doesn't take a 'brave' man to stand and say 'I have autism', or 'I have depression'. A world where all people can just get along, regardless of their mental state. You wouldn't reject a black man for his differences, or person with one leg, would you? And so there is no reason to reject us either.

This is one of the main reasons have this blog, to raise awareness of my particular disorder, and to help everyone understand. I hope that one day, there won't need to be any self-advocates, or demonstrations, or marches, because we will all understand and accept each other. After all, we are all human.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Featured Blog - A Quiet Week

Just a quick update today guys, a great blog I've found!

A Quiet Week is a a blog run by a woman called Lori, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a few years ago. Her Dad was also diagnosed, and her son was diagnosed with autism. Her blog aims to share her wisdom, experiences and humour, and there are plenty of all three! Lori shares many of my views on both the positive and negative points of the autism spectrum, though it seems we both seem to whole heartedly step up to the challenges, and roll with the good times.

I'd like to point out one post in particular, How To Be Friends With An Aspie, as an example of just how positive things can be, and to show her great humour and insights. Everything about it is just great. And the main message of it too, is something I'd like to talk about, probably more another day. Friendship really is that important to us. I might not express it the same way as everyone else, I might seem to misunderstand, or put a foot in the wrong place, but it's always my aim to make people happy, and to fully appreciate the wonder that is the people and friends I have around me.

Lori's blog now has a permanent little spot on my Useful Links page, so please, go and check it out.


PS, I think it's time for another Thoughtsplat soon, seems like a good idea

Monday, 7 October 2013

Back Again - Change And Meeting New People

Alright alright, I've done it again. Promised to start regularly updating, before going silent for several weeks. I'm kicking myself for doing it, but I just feel so busy all the time! I know I'm really probably not as busy as I think I am, but it's really difficult to remember to do everything; I've said before how I have difficulty organising myself. I think I'm starting to get the hang of it! At least I hope I am, I've got two different projects to do this year...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Thoughtsplat! #1 - The Friendship Algorithm

Todays Thoughsplat! involves these guys :D
So, today is the wonderful and clearly super awesome release of my new series of posts called Thoughtsplat! (The exclamation mark doesn't end the sentence, it's part of the name. Just saying. This full stop after the brackets will end the sentence. Look, this one. No, that one, right there --->). I've explained a little about it before in my last post, but I think I better explain it more here.

Thoughtsplat! is a series in which I show you the kind of thought processes that go on in my head, by taking a single thought, either a random thought passing through my mind, or a specific topic, and follow that thread through until I decide to stop, at which point you'll see just how crazy and off topic I can get. Having said that, when I have a lot of time it can be great for intellectualising and thinking through of problems! Some solutions just sort of fly out of nowhere! But mostly it's just fun. Anyway, let us begin!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Back To College! Let's Get Organised!

First off, sorry guys! And welcome to any new readers! It's been so long since my last post, but I've been so busy doing this, that and the other, and getting ready to go back to college. That's the non compulsory sixth form style post high school education for age 16+ in the UK, not university, for you Americans out there. That comes next year ;)

So, hopefully I'll be posting more regularly now that I have a timetable to work with, so I can structure my days and not just decide 'nah, another day' all the time. Routine's a big thing with Asperger's! I'll try to stick to a similar posting schedule to the one I was using, posting every day or two at around 7pm GMT, give or take a couple of hours. Now, it might not work at all, and there's a chance that I'll just give up, or be too stressed too work, or any number of things. But I hope that the thought of helping you all out, and having a place to just drop my thoughts, will be enough to keep me coming back.

I think I'll be starting a 'Thoughtsplat' series of articles too, where I start with a single thought and follow it through, taking the thought wherever it goes. It's a good way of showing how my mind works (and how easily distracted I am!) I might come up with other series' too, when I think of them. But, until then, bye guys!

See you again soon,


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Elementary My Dear Watson - Intellectualising

Image courtesy of the BBC
Before I start, no, this isn't going to be an article about whether Sherlock Holmes would have AS or not. There are plenty of articles all over the place about this already. Still, it might be interesting to tackle this another time. No, this post is about the other bit of the title, intellectualising, and what it entails.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Having A Break :D

The Colosseum
So, I've mentioned before that one of the best ways of escaping stress for me is to sink into a fantasy. Well, even better than that is going on holiday somewhere where I can be doing activities with friends and not have to care about things like college and social stress and other things like that. And that's exactly what I got in July, when I went to Rome on a cultural trip with a group from college, including some of my best friends. It was one of the best experiences I've had in a long time, and if I could go again tomorrow I would.

Okay, I admit this blog post is basically an excuse to post some amazing pictures that I took in Rome, because I love photography. It's become one of my hobbies recently, and it's a pretty good stress relief by itself. Again, seems pretty common among autists. Anyway, click read more for a few pictures!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Look At Me When I'm Talking! - Eye Contact

Image ©
Quite a frequent 'problem' with autists this one. Not looking at people's eyes when they're talking. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the most important one for me is just how awkward it feels when I look at a stranger's eyes. I don't really look 'into' their eyes, since I don't seem to see anything there.