Can you grow out of being autistic?

Aspergers Syndrome has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. While I’ve experienced new things as a child and adult, and faced new challenges in life, autism has been my constant.

What I’ve found recently though is how Aspergers, or autism in general, can evolve as you grow, and also how vast the autistic spectrum really is. I always thought being low-achieving meant you struggled to walk, talk or communicate at all, while being high-achieving meant you could look after yourself and do anything you want to do with your life.

It isn’t so easy though is it? Even if you’ve learned to look people in the eye, understand when somebody is being sarcastic and develop the confidence to take the world and its challenges on, there are still surprise autistic quirks aren’t there? Continue reading

Is Christmas time really all Mistletoe and Wine?

By asking people with autism or family and friends of loved ones with autism from around the world about how Christmas affects the routines and general calm that a lot of help and support can create in everyday life on Facebook and Twitter, the next week or so will be loved and loathed in equal measure.

Where Joel will be more than happy to play Santa on Christmas morning by giving out presents to loved ones and then enjoying their reactions in Australia, Leonie will be excited in the Netherlands as she will have a break from a Christmas period that usually stresses her out.

Jojo will just be happy to end the stressful build-up and just enjoy the big day in Britain, while Kristi’s son will also be in Blighty but will be joyfully eat cereal in another room. These interesting stories will hopefully bring a hardly unusual fact of autism home! Continue reading

A socially awkward superhero

I’m a socially awkward superhero.

Whether I am meeting somebody and holding back when they look like they want to go in for a bit of a cuddle, or probably a quick embrace to be friendly, or when I am on Facebook and Twitter and getting annoyed by friends or followers, I’m rubbish at following the protocol of what I should do.

There is always a feeling that I cannot read the signs in my real life and also my life on social media, but I’m wondering why this is. Do I have poor communication skills as a result of trying to figure out the Asperger’s Syndrome that I live with, or am I just over-thinking the whole idea of social etiquette? Please walk with me as I share my thoughts, and feel free to like or favourite this foray into my superhero mind! Continue reading

What is ABA, and is it a help or a hinderance? – Jennifer Hubbard’s view

When Autism: Challenging Behaviour was first broadcast on BBC Four on Tuesday 5th November 2013, it opened up the idea of using Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) as a therapy which could help autistic children to improve their developmental skills through intensive support and praise.

By focussing on the work that is done at Treetops School, a state school in Grays, Essex which is run as a day special school for children and young people with moderate to severe learning difficulties, and also on the work of Gunnar Frederiksen, an ABA consultant in Sweden, the documentary showed how ABA can help or hinder an autistic person through focussing on three case studies.

The results on screen for three-year-old Jack and four-year-old Jeremiah were positive to see from their care at Treetops, though 16-year-old Richard seemed profoundly affected by the therapy he received as a child from Gunnar. This provoked a positive and negative response, even though views were not shared at the time of writing What is ABA, and is it a help or a hinderance? by anybody directly linked with ABA at Treetops or with Gunnar himself. Continue reading

Why does it never rain cats and dogs?

As a young child and for a couple of years in the early stages, my time as a teenager too, I felt confused by the most simple of metaphors which wouldn’t trouble a lot of people who thought things through in a lateral way.

“It’s raining cats and dogs.” Is it? “Can you see that person over there, Phil? He’s got a mole on his chin.” Has he? Where?!

My trouble was that I was, and I still am, a literal thinker. I’ve never been a lateral thinker and even though there are times where I struggle to understand humour and mixed up instructions as an adult, I like the way I am. Why should I try and conform to what others believe, and realise a German Shepherd won’t fall out of the sky? Continue reading

What is ABA, and is it a help or a hinderance?

Until I sat down to watch Autism: Challenging Behaviour on BBC Four, a British television channel, on Tuesday 5th November 2013, I had no idea what Applied Behaviour Analysis was.

I had no idea what it meant, I had no idea what it entailed, and I had no idea how it could be used in a variety of different ways to try and help autistic children to overcome issues they face as a result of being autistic.

Watching the documentary though was a learning curve for me as an autistic adult who has always gone through life by facing challenges which have toughened me up. It was an insight into the work that is done by Treetops School, a state school in Grays, Essex which uses ABA to deal with pupils that have severe learning disabilities, and it divided opinions on Facebook and Twitter from those who watched it. Continue reading

Autism through a fresh pair of eyes

What does autism mean to you if you’re autistic yourself, or if you are a loved one of somebody who is going along on a constant journey to find themselves?

Does it mean a sense of frustration when things just don’t work in the way that they do for ‘normal’ people? Does it mean confusion and then annoyance when other people that don’t understand autism are narrow minded enough to assume that you are just badly behaved or ignorant? Does it mean vomit on your shoes?

Okay, that last thought may seem a little bit strange but when compared with the first two, each of those scenarios apply to me. Different events throughout development have shaped my view of autism, and I think it is time to find out if anybody else has experienced similar moments that have defined their autistic understanding if I’m going to improve my own. Continue reading

A chat with Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette is a writer who is witty, not afraid to speak her mind and is straight to the point on any subject that she chooses to talk about in her bestselling books.

Because of this, I was drawn to The Boy Who Fell To Earth, a book which has been written by Lette that tackles the relationship between a mother and a son who lives his life with autism by his side.

By being so straight and honest in the way that the lives of Lucy and Merlin are depicted, I was intrigued to find out why the decision was made to write about such a relationship and by finding out Lette’s reasons, the story becomes much more beautiful. Continue reading

Being passionate about presentation

Almost every person with autism has one or two interests that mean an awful lot to them, sometimes being things which they talk about at any opportunity.

As they are so enthusiastic about what they like, they feel the need to talk about their loves and even if the person that is on the receiving end of the conversation isn’t interested, there is still a desire to chat and chat and chat.

Usually, such an interest is popular with others such as trainspotting or planespotting but others are quite specialist, and I want to educate you all on something that I love which is a hidden part of the life of any television viewer. Continue reading

Turning depression into success

If you have ever suffered with depression or anxiety, you will know how much of an impact it can make on every aspect of your daily life.

It can be tough to wake up in the morning, find the desire to eat and drink or think that there is light at the end of a very dark tunnel. The feelings never seem to go away and even though you try your hardest to be happy, it feels impossible to smile.

What is important to know though is that these fraught emotions are only in the mind, and that there can be hope for the future. Success and a fantastic future can come from reaching a low ebb and I have the experience to say this. Continue reading