A Friend’s Response to My Autism Query



I see you as a brave and social person with an intelligence and energy that I am quite envious of who is in an highly pressurized situation of being a single parent of a child with autism that has had a negative effect on his siblings and the family environment which takes a lot of managing and must be frankly exhausting.


Post Without a Title


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Advocate from 16personalities.com

I checked in with a simple “I’m really struggling this week” without going into details. I really struggled to be present for this session. I had 2son in my head, as well as my talk with K and thoughts of autism and a radical re-definition of myself.

We had an over-lengthy debate over transference and counter-transference, without mentioning that it’s often because the person reminds you of someone from your past. I kept quiet.

We had an interesting discussion about place in the family, as first, middle, last or only siblings. The youngest is supposed to be the most overindulged and I wasn’t the only youngest sibling present who rejected that quite strongly. I summarised my middle sister’s resentments as feeling screwed both ways which was actually really strong, but true. She resents both of us (or resented) for perceived bonuses of our positions as eldest and youngest. I could have added that although youngest I grew up as an only sibling as well just to confuse the issue even more. However, reading a summary of Adler’s views, I clearly tick the box of being a good observer about the family and its dynamics. He says the youngest either feels special or unwanted. The unwanted feels neglected, disliked and ignored. I’m not sure about disliked but I certainly felt neglected and ignored and I did feel unwanted or unplanned to the extent of asking my mother why they’d bothered having me and was relieved to discover they had planned a fourth who hadn’t happened. Continue reading

Am I Autistic?



I spoke to my friend and mentor, K, about 2son’s annual review and my feeling such a mess after it. She did her usual trick of stiffening my spine, pointing out what I had to do and what the issues were. She always makes me feel more competent and stronger at the end of an encounter and I was lucky she had a window in her diary. I then said to her that my therapist had politely wondered whether I thought I might be autistic and was there any point to an adult assessment? A child clearly needs the label in order to access the help and specialised education needed, but for an adult?

Well, the clear advantage is that you stop being useless and start being disabled. Even in this Conservative austere country, there are advantages. It would gain me some benefits whilst being able to drop some work, without it having to be the all or nothing that currently traps me. That in itself would go a long way to help me out of the financial trap I described earlier this week and free me up to look after my health and my children.

I downloaded the self-referral form and stared at it, unable to fill in the boxes. Did I really want to be autistic? The reality is that I am or I am not and getting assessed, whatever the result, is not going to change the reality. But, just like going to the GP for the first time to confess to depression and beg for help takes a huge mind shift to just admit it to yourself before to admit it to a GP, filling in a form means I am recognising that it is a real possibility. So I blanked it, left alone for another day. Continue reading

Feeling Trapped


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I’m trapped by my children.

I have just come back from a 48 hour whirlwind of 2son’s annual review and a school visit, of which more another time. Right now, after all that focus, concentration and a 600+ mile round trip the emotional reaction is setting in and I have shed tears.

I don’t want this fight for 2son, for next year’s placement, for funding, for his future. I’m tired of fighting. I don’t want to have to fight with his new social worker, who seems to be somewhere between utterly useless and useless. I don’t want to fight with 2son who refused to visit a potential school in half term and has yesterday made a decision that isn’t in his best interests but seems safer to him for the immediate future. I don’t want any of it. Continue reading

The Connections Between Us


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people connections shutterstockWe reconvened after a week’s half term in a somewhat different atmosphere. It was as if we’d all gone away and decided that we did like each other and everything was going to be all right. There was something more relaxed and convivial about the atmosphere that was a lot more positive.

Having said that, we’d split up into two halves for peer groups. The other one has got closer together by means of daily check ins. I tried getting our silent group to do the same and got a null response. I’m the most outspoken of the group and no one else would join in. It was frustrating but I’m not going to sit there and do it all myself. I tried offering my own check in and got a couple of people offering me advice and asking me questions, rather than just hearing what I said and being there in the moment. That made me angry; had they not been listening to anything? I found it difficult to not say this was the point, to actively listen to a check in. I tried to say something gently but I don’t think it worked.

We discussed how relations with friends and family had changed since we’d announced we were doing this course. For many it was seen as an opportunity to ring up and vent whatever problems were on their mind as good practice for the listener, with less excuse to escape. I felt that I’d said my piece for the day and didn’t really join in. I was considering that no-one has actually changed and taken that attitude with me. People have either been accepting and interested or not really passing comment. Of course I haven’t told my parents I’m doing the course so I haven’t had a reaction from them. Continue reading

The Work – Folsom Prison Blues


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I went to see The Work at the weekend with C and S as recommended by our tutor. We all three walked separately down Peckham’s Rye Lane on our way to the venue (in the dark around 6pm on a Sunday night) and all three felt that we were walking in another world. The vibrant street was still very active with a vast number of butchers and fishmongers selling in bulk by the boxful a full range of animals and cuts from goats to chicken feet. Some of the fish smelt wonderful but hygiene looked very suspect in all, which in itself is a bad assumption based on appearance. Shops were still open with lots of interesting fruit and veg that spoke to the ethnic mix of the area.

I felt uncomfortable, for no particular reason (until one man asked me why was I walking down the street on my own) and it made me consider how insular we are and how unaware we can be of how fragile our self-assuredness out on the streets can be. There was an immediate sense of it being another world and of us not belonging. I know I like my comfort zone and my sense of belonging and being in familiar surroundings. In fact my therapist asked me whether an autism assessment would benefit me as this need for familiarity is definitely part of the package. Whether having that label would benefit me is a thought for another day, along with the possibly irrelevant nature v nurture debate it suggests. Either way, a lesson learned is the one I already knew, that I need to go out of my comfort zone in order to feel more comfortable at feeling less comfortable. Continue reading

Not Done With School


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I thought I had written out my anger but clearly I hadn’t.

I meant this half term to start writing my next essay, a mere bagatelle at 2,500 words. I started this evening but my mind kept wandering here, so this is where I’m writing.

I hate writing essays.

I put this in my Learning Contract, a short piece of work of aims, goals, trials that I expect to face in my course this year. I was honest and clear cut about it.

I didn’t explain why though and I didn’t have to. But I need to think it out. Part of the reason I did my degree in Maths was because it didn’t involve writing essays. I did one short module on the history of Maths, which I really enjoyed, but I sweated over the essays, never feeling confident in my ability.

Going back to reading my school reports I’m not really surprised I lacked confidence. Even with the subjects I thought I was enjoying I got negative reports. Nowadays reports have a far greater emphasis on accentuating the positive and not being quite so vicious.

From the age of 8 to 14 I never had to write in English at school. I only wrote to my grandmothers and occasionally one of my sisters and I don’t suppose any of those were masterpieces.

I wrote French essays but for these I would be focused on using my limited vocabulary and getting the grammar right. The approach to these was different, with piles of dictionaries and books of synonyms and all manner of reference books that don’t exist in English. I don’t suppose I had any chance of putting any creative thought into an essay, let alone developing structure.

Reading through all these reports that all say that I’m superficial, and don’t think deep enough made me feel inadequate then, and, make me feel angry now because they still make me feel inadequate. I read them and wondered if they were right, if I simply couldn’t apply my mind as my father kept telling me too, and that maybe I’m just not capable. No wonder I don’t want to start an essay.

The fact is that I have two external sources that loomed large in my life, my schools and my father, and they both agree with each other that I’m not performing up to my abilities and since neither of them ever questioned my mental health, my state of mind, the only answer is that I’m lazy and unwilling.


is the word running through my head, although I can’t identify the teacher’s voice. It means more than lazy, literally it means do-nothing, idle, work-shy. I was a disappointment to my father as he saw my inability to study a complete waste. I do remember trying to explain to him that misery was not a good companion to studies but he didn’t see it.

I feel misjudged. I feel unsupported. I feel maligned. But I also feel angry that I am still suffering the consequences both practically with anxiety at the very least over essay writing but also feeling that I have lost out on what my education could have done for me if teachers, both in French and in English had taken my situation into account and helped me more. What a waste of all those years. I realise I didn’t help by burying all this and not showing what was going on inside but I didn’t really think that anyone would give a rat’s arse about how I felt.

School Reports


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My father, in his attempt to get rid of at least 1% of his stuff, handed over my school reports. I thought it might be a poisoned chalice and it was. I ended up in tears at the disconnect between the child I remembered being during my school days and the child they were describing. Did they not see me? Was my pain buried so deep as to be invisible?

Where to start?

lively and well-organised,… some successful paintings

sometimes a little careless through haste… her test results were a little disappointing

My first primary school was difficult at first as I could already read and they found that confusing. My last year was Year 3 after which we moved abroad. I remember in that year my teacher refusing to believe that I had read a book in ten minutes (3 lines per page…) and insisted I copied it out as proof. My Maths I remember as some orange small workbooks that I enjoyed working my way through at speed. I don’t really remember much else. I enjoyed my recorder lessons and became quite proficient but was peeved I got rejected for cellos after a quick try out. Miss Plant got married and got a more boring surname. We also had a Miss Stern. I think I was happy. I had a best friend and a few others. I certainly felt accepted and remember making attempts to befriend those who weren’t (there was smelly Susan, who I liked, but did, well, smell, and not of dirt; whatever happened to her?) Helen made me cry once as I did not want to go to her house after school while my mother was elsewhere. Now I wonder how upset I made her by such rejection. I have no idea why other than I was jealous of the toys she had. I fractured my arm in the playground but other than the shock didn’t seem bothered. Continue reading

Small Changes


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I went to pick up 2son at the beginning of half term from St Pancras. I almost had a cup of tea but decided to be nice to myself and had a glass of wine instead. I don’t drink in the daytime as it just sends me to sleep but I thought I haven’t got anything else to do and I’d like one. So I did.

Having asked for a small glass he proceeded to give me a large one. Rather than meekly accept it I refused it saying it’s not what I asked for. No problem, but I wouldn’t have done it only a short while ago.

A friend snapped at me the other day. She was momentarily stressed and I hadn’t noticed so I joked with her rather than giving her the quick response she needed and she snapped. I felt bad about it for a short period of time, slightly annoyed that she didn’t then apologise for snapping (not something she does) but I was actually pleased that I didn’t melt into a puddle of tears at the idea that she didn’t like me any more. Continue reading

A Jumble of Confusion


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I am realising that I am feeling very confused as to what level of notes I should be taking from the course and from the books. My reading has slowed down because I want to give consideration and thought to what is being said and to take notes. But rather than spend time taking notes which permit a time for reflection I tend to just take a snapshot and move on. But I then don’t go back to those snaps and reflect on them. I’m not even organising them properly. Some of my notes are on paper and some electronic and it all feels a bit of a jumble. I’m almost worried that I’m reading too much and writing too little. I have a large pile of books that I have bought, most of which suggest another few books to read. I’ve been using the college library and a few from the local library. I can come back to these books if I want but I am worried about not noting down the useful interesting extracts from each book. I’m also concerned that I’m not absorbing enough material from the books as I quite often read books more than once. And yes, I can hear how ridiculous this all sounds.

It’s as if my head is exploding with excitement from thoughts that I am reading and I’m running around from one thought to another like an excited puppy with no sense. I am excited. This is the first thing for many a year that is really gripping me and it’s as if I’m so unused to feeling stimulated that I don’t know how to do it. Old me says I should organise and categorise my thoughts and papers and that will calm me down. New me says read another book and get excited some more. Continue reading