After yet another failure to connect and build a friendship with a fellow autistic I’m beginning to see that regardless of whether someone is on the spectrum or not the emotional core of people are the same. If I (as always) unintentionally cause hurt or offence to people’s emotional state, then that’s the end for me in building the friendship. I can’t get over this challenge. I’ve apologised and tried to explain words and actions more but people remain locked in their damaged emotional state. They won’t come out of it to look at it with the logical part of their brains. It’s also the main thing they remember from me and interactions. They are locked in it and I feel ‘marked’ by them from then onwards. This inability of mine to recognise why or how I’ve hurt someone, and how to repair or get someone over their emotional state is a big issue for me.
Hey. It’s 6am and I can’t sleep due to a tooth abscess. I’m writing this right now to distract myself from the pain. I’ve taken a lot of painkillers and I don’t think I can take anymore for like another 6 hours. I’ve been taking ibuprofen and paracetamol but they don’t seem strong enough to me. I’m prepared to pay to have the tooth taken out as I can’t wait to have it out. However I’ve been told a dentist wouldn’t do that while I have this infection. I’ve been given the antibiotic amoxicillin but it takes about 72 hours to start working.
I’m contemplating going to get dihydrocodeine which is an opioid. Serious stuff. But I can’t take that for more than 3 days as it’s addictive. I’m wary as the opioid crisis in USA is often in the news. I’m in bed in pain listening to Bill Evans. Shit, it’s going to be a long 6 hours or so before I can take more meds. The pain is constant and maddening. I’ve only been taking the amoxicillin for about 16 hours 😦 I don’t know how to distract myself.
In university we were given a group assignment and one essay was about personal reflections on this assignment. Below is what I wrote for it:
When we were all asked about our feelings on working on a group assignment I said that I think it would be really interesting as I’d never done a group assignment before. An image formed in my head of my group in the library all around a computer, with a large amount of coffee, collectively writing a piece of work as a group together. This was my image of this in my head. I don’t know if this was along the lines of what the university was also expecting of us or whether this image of mine was highly idealised.
As someone on the autistic spectrum I’ve been interested in group dynamics and behaviour for quite a few years now. Reading about them and psychology has helped as a lens in which to understand human behaviour as the spectrum can feel disconnecting when reading people. In groups there are spoken and unspoken forces that change the dynamic over time. In my mind this was meant to be group work. I quickly realised by intuition and acts in reality that the group had little interest in working collectively from the very start. This was never openly said of course. Everyone wanted to work as individuals and stick everything together in order at the end.
We had many meetings but rather than discuss the work extensively, most of the discussions centred around carving up the work and assigning who would do each part of the marking criteria. In doing this we severely limited ourselves to our own pieces in both scope of expression and in word count restrictions. We all had very different writing styles and ways of working. I accepted that this was unlikely to change so I proposed that we all write our pieces and then meet to collectively write parts that would help ‘glue’ our pieces together in a number of ways to help enhance a common voice. This suggestion was met with silence. In my experience, the main work we did collectively was to decide how individual we were going to be. In our feedback from our presentation assessment it was obvious that our work was recognised as individual pieces put together and not collectively done. Yet everyone stayed entrenched in their own ways of working.
I think that giving students group assignments is a very important exercise for the real working world. It should be a completely different way of working and challenging to normal individualised study. There are certainly some challenges in setting, monitoring and marking such assignments. Here are a few suggestions:
The emphasis on group work should be made very clear and working as a group be vital in the marking criteria.
The process of the work should be documented by students and collectively agreed on at multiple points e.g. a journal, audio/video recordings etc. Lecturers should actually see groups working together at certain set points and see if the work done at these points is developed and included in the final essays. Evidence of all this should also be submitted along with assignments
More information on past student experiences of group working, benefits, pitfalls, challenges etc.
The more people there are in a group, the higher the overall word count should be.
As I said in the introduction, I had an idea in my head on what group work entailed. Perhaps this was the wrong idea or was unrealistic. I will leave this up for other people to decide. I hope to find out myself in the future. I also fully acknowledge that I was not experienced in group work. Maybe the way we worked was expected by the university and was fine.
I hope the university continues to set more group work but it has to be very aware on how students may work within group dynamics. When we work in groups we take on the schedules, thoughts, interests, thought structures, insecurities etc. of other human beings. This is really the true challenge. As we have all gotten this far in academia it’s fair to say that we all feel comfortable working and writing individually. However it’s important to challenge one’s boundaries for the purpose of growth. We all need to be more mindful of our reluctance to expand out of these boundaries and question why.
In the end the work was produced. Perhaps this is all that matters. I’m glad we managed to find a common voice and message in the report. Everyone coexisted in a cordial and pleasant manner in meetings. I felt that our numerous student meetings was to provide the mental illusion that we were a collective. Work-wise the meetings were unproductive in my opinion and served as a tranquilliser for individual insecurities about the assignment. The lack of actual work being done in them dented my motivation. As far as I’m aware not a single sentence was written as a group and research was done individually. For me the presentation assignment was invaluable and when I think back at it now that assignment laid a great deal of groundwork for the report. I think this group-working experience has overall has turned out quite well. I think I was just a bit naive.
Of all the impairments and characteristics across autism the ones that form the most commonality for those on the spectrum are communicative and social. These run right across the spectrum.
We are now in a very exciting period of genetic and neurological research. Autism is now recognised as having a strong genetic link with some environmental influences. One of the major problems with autism research is that results are difficult to replicate as paper methodologies are constantly in flux. Even the smallest changes can give very different results. The recent explosion of such papers makes it more difficult to filter and contextualise for the lay person to make sense of it. Neurotypical children are wired for socialisation from birth and can play the ‘social game’ without external education or instruction. The mother’s face is the most important thing in the world for the neurotypical baby. Professor Fred Volkmar believes that even before a child can talk, if they are good at playing this social game and social reading, many other “things fall out from that, you get interested in communicating, you get interested in other people’s feelings…you get very good at fast information processing…gestures, tone of voice, words, body posture…and you take it all and make sense of it.” Autistics struggle with all this and mentally rank socialising, face recognition and reading much lower in importance leading to an over-focus on the non-social world. They push socialising into the background.
Within autistics are not only potentially wonderful talents but a valuable alternative perception and viewpoint on the world. Autism can provide an extremely interesting (and often satirical) mirror to human society and social interactions. Autistic’s ability to ‘hyper-focus’ on tasks is a great asset that can lead to fantastic breakthroughs. Art needs to play its part, not to drag autistics into the social limelight but provide a safe and life affirming transition into mainstream social structures and norms. Autistics may seem like they are in their own worlds and don’t want to join the rest of the world. They do. Social exclusion hurts. It hurts physically, it hurts mentally, it hurts emotionally. Autistics are looking for a purpose in life and they find that in themselves, yes, but also in society, in jobs, in each other.
A space without culture is a dead space. I argue that people build places and culture makes places. Culture acts as an undercurrent of every environment and act within. I argue that there is no point in designing and autistic space or doing an arts participation activity within a culture that counters or undermines the culture the participants came from. When people walk through the door they come from their own worlds and cultures. Autism and disability culture are vibrant and diverse and has been developing for over 30 years. It is with culture where space really becomes space. It transcends the incubating and nurturing physical environment to minds and actions out in the world. Culture provides the framework for positive creation, self image and self development. Social and cultural issues debates on disability are not widely known to the general public. This lack of knowledge and acknowledgement I argue keeps the disabled in a disadvantaged wider societal culture and gives them a secondary disability which is often more life affecting than any physical impairment. It is the duty of the culture and health sectors to bring autism culture and creations into the wider social forums. If this isn’t done then the damaging and disabling affects on health and wellbeing caused by social exclusion will continue to compound these impairments to a wider greater societal cost.
It important that any mentality and view of autistics not be negative, negating in language, deficiency-first approaches. Much of this is in the mind but it is picked up in the atmosphere of attempts to include the disabled. Such negativity would only contribute to potentially harmful and disabling social constructions that debase the whole objectives of autistic acceptance efforts. Many families of autistic members are raised on the deficit and medical model. A great deal of them primarily view what their child cannot do rather than what they can. If we look at this historically, this is understandable as the information they received was likely based on the medical model but we can help refresh their mindsets of the possibilities of a more social model of disability and hope for a better future for their child.
Autism has arguably some similarities with sexuality. You can’t separate your sexuality from your being and autistics can’t separate autism from themselves. It simply is them. Not too long ago homosexuality was deemed a mental illness or disease that science should endeavour to ‘cure’. This has some historical parallels with autism. Personally I can say that when I found out about myself being on the spectrum I did a quite unscholarly thing and googled (the non google scholar site) a great deal about it. The first result that came up was to do with curing autism. When I saw this on the screen my immediate, split -second thought was ‘there is a cure to me?’ Note I mentally said ‘to me’ not ‘for me’. It is almost impossible to communicate the answer to ‘what is it like being autistic?’ Autism is something the person is born with and lives with all throughout life. Autistics can’t truly know what its like to be neurotypical and vice versa. There is growing medical and social recognition and acceptance that autism is a part of a natural, evolutionary process of producing diverse brain types, different but not necessarily less in functioning.
Ok, now I’m going to rant about men’s high street fashion options. But first let’s look at how stores are laid out for men. Getting to the men’s department means walking through the women’s department, often to the back and very very often either up (multiple) or down stairs…and tucked away is the men’s department.
During my journey I walk through the somewhat interesting designs of the female department. Their clothes have colours and designs on them. They look like someone has sat down at a desk and drew something out for them. You know, creativity.
Now I get to the drone attire of the men’s department…where even casual wear makes one look like one is at work…some of which at some totalitarian sweatshop or civil service office.
Whenever there’s any men’s clothes that look even remotely loud or daring, they usually put them on black or Asian models, which makes me mentally think I couldn’t pull off that look as a white guy.
Then I go downstairs or upstairs to get out the store secretly wishing I could buy some women’s clothes to give to my cousin to cut up and make them into men’s clothes for me. But I never do. I buy another dull plain drone shirt with nothing on it and no expression of difference, creativity or rebellion.
HEX the social stigma about being an artist
PRISM ways to promote disability art
TURNTABLE changing minds politically, political hypocrisy
PLACES IVE TOUCHED WHEN IVE BROKE DOWN TO CRY
REASONS WHY I MUST LEAVE THE ROOM AFTER SEX
PROJECTIONS about men projecting fantasies onto women and only falling in love with the fantasy while she has to perpetuate the projections for her material wellbeing.
I ACCEPT about the most exploitative contract terms and conditions
UNDER THE HOOD about stealing for the local greater good
LOVE BITES whats cool about them and photography etc
STEEL AND CONCRETE musing about why humanity is moving more and more to cities to live in steel and concrete cages
AFTER MIDNIGHT about why we get more creative and emotional in the early hours
IMMOVABLE OBJECT about trying to convince an old man to change
YOU CANT BE A PROPHET IN YOUR OWN LAND about why we find people from other cities/countries/cultures more attractive and easier to listen to
ITS NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY WITHOUT AN ALIEN IN IT about the amazing ability of the brain to make any random selections of information fit together to make seemingly rational subjective sense even though its total bollocks.
ITS A REAL DIAMOND about reversing out of lies only for that to cause even more damage.
DONT GO WALKING AROUND THE DOCKS ON A FULL MOON about how the mind detests ambiguity and tends to be drawn to certainties
THE PARALYSIS OF FREEDOM about how we have more choice than ever before and more information than ever before to access yet we get paralysed by it as much as having no freedom and no choices
RAZOR about how self harm can actually save lives
COLLAR about how people from the BDSM community are often the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.
THE EVER CLOSING VICE AGAINST SMOKING how the smoking ban has brought smokers closer together, has repackaged smokers into vapers, smoking fetishes and how inhaling toxic fumes is a self indulgence that is totally apt in the face of life.
BASS about when you were a kid you didn’t give a shit about bass but when you learnt a few guitar chords you couldn’t wait to learn bass because its fucking great.
LEAVING TEACHING why teaching makes you wanna jump out the fucking window
BUNKING OFF my adventures bunking off school
THE ONE BRITNEY SPEARS ALBUM I OWN AND WHY I OWN IT
IN MY MIND I HAVE PHYSICAL FIGHTS WITH PLATO about how philosophy isn’t dead, how it can be really helpful, fantastic at building community and skills and wellbeing etc.
THE BRITISH ON HOLIDAY about why British people feel like Gods when they go on holiday yet are a bunch of bleached-minded, culturally moribund drones when they are at home
QUALITY OF LIFE VS STANDARD OF LIVING about why having a BMW 3 series gives you more of a buzz because its socially better than your neighbour’s Skoda Supreme even though the Skoda supreme is a fucking fantastic car apparently and is massive inside n all but you dont buy it because its a Skoda and how you work all hours god sends for the bmw
And that destroys your quality of life while the Skoda driver gets to have 3 holidays a year while you’re lucky to get to Lake windermere for 2 days a year and thats your lot.
IVE NEVER READ OR SEEN OR KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HARRY POTTER…AM I ALONE?
I AM HERE FOR YOUR BODY about turning up at exes houses drunk after a night out
UNI CERTIFICATES about how the degrees on my wall now symbolise failure and debt rather that success and having a middle class life and how these certificates almost mock me or watch me like a photo of big brother on my wall
THE CHURNING, SHREDDING PULP OF MY CV about writing and rewriting my cv over and over again because I still dont have the gaul to make sell myself effectively and in a big way
MY ONLINE DATING CHRONICLES THAT MAKE ME WANT TO STICK MY HEAD IN A BUCKET OF ACID WITH CRINGE AND BAD MEMORIES.
THE TIME I GOT MY FIRST STUDENT LOAN INSTALLMENT AND HOW I BLEW 400 QUID ON STRIPPERS AND COCKTAILS THINKING I WAS RICH
RAIN about how when it rains in the city I fantasise that im in some cyberpunk noir thing with vangelis music on like Blade Runner but im not.
WHY PRINCE WAS BETTER THAN MICHAEL JACKSON
TOFF ACTORS ranting about why there aren’t enough working class actors like there used to be and how if you look into the backgrounds of most of these top actors and models they are very often public school establishment fuckers
THE TIME I SAW A BLACK MAN ON MY STREET I live in suburban England and honest to god id never seen a black person on my street, ever
THE BANDS AND ARTISTS THAT MADE IT THROUGH MY EARLY 20S TASTE REASSESSMENT PERIOD Limp Bizkit didn’t make it though
So I got my first prescription sunglasses ever the other day. Pleased with them and when I picture myself- I’m wearing them. I want to wear them a hell of a lot but I don’t think that’s socially acceptable. While I don’t have severe sensory issues I like that I don’t have to worry much about people thinking I’m not making eye contact. Also the shades make me feel like I have a barrier for protection. However as I’m new to wearing them along with the social disapproval of wearing them all the time I’m currently self conscious with them on.