How to Streamline your life

I like to collect things I always have. This is an autistic thing for reasons yet unknown but I think its more to do with the introverted mindset. We are happier indoors, away from others and left to our own things. Our thoughts are strong to the point of being overwhelming. They control us so having familiar items around us calms us. However these same objects reinforce a negative mindset inside of us and in order to be truly free we need to be rid of reminders of past episodes in our life.

Like everyone else I have heard of Marie Kondo. I have even written a little bit about my opinion on her and her methods. Streamlining your home is a good idea at any time but it seems to take on new significance in the new year. Most people are open to the perspective of change at this time of year where as at other moments it takes something drastic like a relationship, environment or health change to inspire you to take a long hard look at yourself.

I was looking at the back history of my posts recently and this always serves to remind me just have far I have come from those early days when I mainly just posted other peoples posts that interested me. I forget how I used to be and need reminding that change is continual. When I hit some negative points like I did yesterday its comforting to know that I have been there before and I have gotten out of it. Each time I learn something new.

Expectations whether generated by society, your upbringing or yourself can be devastating to your self esteem and your morale. Know yourself as written on the temple at Delphi it one of the most crucial things to remember. You have to remember your core values as demonstrated in Inside Out for they are what motivate you. Sometimes they are warped out of all comprehension, sometimes you forget what they are but they are always inside of you.

Getting back to your basics is one of the important things that can be done easiest after Christmas because there is a natural lull in nature. Its a time for taking stock, reflecting, seeing what worked, what needs to still be worked on and possible strategies for the year. Planning is an activity that has to be completed otherwise you don’t have anything to work from. When things get hectic later on, if you can refer to your schedule then its easier to progress. Trying to make a schedule when you are burdened with too many responsibilities means that its going to be a poorly thought out plan.

All plans need wiggle room though as the unexpected does happen. I see in lots of couples that are successful the things that changes their lives the most is when they get pregnant. They can’t function like they used to. Children remind us that we are human and not the machines we have come to think of ourselves as. Take the time out to enjoy them as you don’t get that time again.

On the other side of the coin is when you have planned your life around having a child and your continually disappointed when that doesn’t happen. There is no end to the thoughts that circulate in your head. As the years go by and you attend more weddings and hear about the subsequent pregnancies and birth you wonder what is wrong with me? Why isn’t it happening for me? Maybe I not meant to have a child?

All I can say in response to this is that the most painful feeling is to not have a child when you want one but even that is topped by having a child with the wrong person as i have seen in some of my friends. They may have been the right person then but it just goes to show that nature isn’t fair, its brutal.

For the love of mathematics

My first love in life was maths. I was astonishly good at it. I had the kind of brain that just knew the answer to problems without even realising it. I was very much like Daniel Tamnet. He struggled enormously with his talent and the fact he wasn’t like anyone else. He also couldn’t connect with others. It was only later in life that he learnt that he was capable of more than just maths. He also is a celebrated linguist and has a phenomenal ability to explain how he does this seemingly unearthly talents.

While I no longer have such mathematical talents I am still very much interested in maths and physics problems. I’m just reduced to reading about others accomplishments as you will learn in the book, maths is a young persons game and by the time you reach your thirties your pretty much over the hill just like in sports. They have even proven that you are much more likely to win the noble prize when you are much younger due to the sheer output that is possible in your youth.

I don’t want to sound morbid because I still have many decades left in me I hope but I know that life can be cut short quite quickly as mine almost was 17 years ago. It’s almost like an anniversary. I don’t celebrate it but maybe I should. It reminds me that I was one way for so long and then in the blink of an eye I wasn’t. As an autistic that throws you the most extreme curve ball you can ever deal with. When you have reassess your whole life’s plan, reanalyse what you are now capable of but most crucially relearn basic human behaviour like walking, bowel control and sleeping through the night, is it any wonder that I have been lost for so long trying to rediscover myself?

I had barely found myself at 17 having led a very isolated and protected life. My mother worried excessively about my vulnerability to the point of making her obsessive about protecting me. This doesn’t help when your recovering from a near fatal car accident and she has to raise you all over again from not knowing what 2+2 is to the realisation that the reason you have sent your daughter to many hospital appointments is vindicated because she is autistic. Her differences with viewing the world finally make sense but now you have a new challenge as you don’t know the affects the car accident is going to have on her. Are you going to allow her the freedom to grow or are you going to increase your efforts to cocoon her from the harshness and realities of the world?

I spent the next year off school recovering and adjusting to my new way of being. I had done the SAT test immediately before my accident so that was a marker of my intelligence then but what was I now?

I never took the test again as far as I recall so we will never know but suffice to say I completed high school, did an Access course, a CISCO course in my spare time and got to university.

This is where the trouble begins because as well as losing my mathematical ability it seems I have also my ability to program. This is a big problem for a person who wants to be a computer scientist. Cue me exploring many other areas of interest while learning how to socialise, be a human and basically epically failing at my degree without me even realising. I passed in case your wondering.

For an autistic no longer having a sense of purpose is devastating. I had fulfilled all of the things (read my mother) had wanted for me. I had beat a accident that could have killed me, I had got a degree, I even had a partner with a house and his own business. What on earth was I going to do since I was clearly incapable of getting a job?

I’m still in the quandary of what do I do with my life and what am I capable of but I keep exploring new options. Life has never been simple or easy for me but hopefully I figure it out before it ends whenever that is.

Best wishes

Angela

Autism as a superpower

Greta Thunberg is fond of saying that her autism is her superpower and in a way that is true. It allows her to have the single mindedness that is needed to get the government to pay attention to climate change. It also allows her to continue on with her task regardless of the obstacles that are present or that are put into her path deliberately.

However this also blinds her to the fact that she was rather cruel to her mother making her stop singing opera because flights are bad for the planet. She is a bit like those hard core vegans that say cows are releasing methane into the atmosphere therefore we are no longer allowed to eat them since it’s too dangerous. South Park had an episode on this recently and I was stunned to find watching UFC that the impossible burger actually exists. I thought they made it up as a joke.

Autism can be regarded as your superpower but it’s extraordinarily fickle in its operation. You have to learn how to control it much like all the characters in Heroes or any other super hero oriented show has to. Before this is done it has more downsides than upsides. This is our eternal struggle. Autism is a gift but more often it’s treated as if you have an infectious disease that makes you incapable of anything.

We need not only autism awareness but autism acceptance. We didn’t make ourselves this way and we didn’t ask to be this way so we should not be penalised for something that we were born with. As Lady Gaga says “I was born this way!

Best wishes

Angela

The difference between an early and late diagnosed autistic

I’m going to start by saying this is just my personal opinion based on what I have observed so far. I am a late diagnosed person on account of the fact that myself and my personality were quite developed by the time I got my diagnosis at 17. An early diagnosis I classify as you got it very early on in your life so you’ve always been autistic. There was never a time that you can remember being an undiagnosed autistic.

The reason I decided to make this distinction is that it shapes your personality. There is the debate about whether you are an autistic person or a person with autism. This is more than the simple language debate it would seem. I know a lot of people would think what is the difference but it’s there. It depends how much you think autism is a part of you and your life. Does your autism define you in the way that a footballer is sometimes only thought of a footballer and when they stop playing they have lost their identity? For me my autism is a big part of me as it’s always been present whether recognised or not but it’s not all that I am. I am interested in a great many things in this world. Yes I can be obsessive, literal and single minded but I can also be social, warm and affectionate.

I think my late diagnosis helped me as I learnt the habits that I need to survive. I don’t have the strange eating habits of only eating chicken and chips or other similarly limited diets. I may say inappropriate things occasionally but I’m generally polite. I’m a fairly well rounded person who luckily escaped something much more debilitating like Down’s syndrome or Tourette’s but even here people are making strides towards acceptance. They are being welcomed into the community.

I think an early diagnosis is akin to helping a butterfly out of its chrysalis. You damage it in ways it can’t know until later on. I was hurt by others and by not knowing myself but now I think I’m being reborn like the butterfly and I’m flying free due to having gained the strength from my earlier struggles. One of the things my mother always said to me was “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I’m not quite sure whether she was joking, being sarcastic or truly meant it as it differed when she said it but it’s true. Also “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Or “Cry and you cry alone, laugh and the whole world laughs with you.” These were epithets delivered on how to make friends and the mood you should be in to attract other people.

People are what make life more interesting but you have to be in the right place to be able to accept them into your life. If you have more drama and issues stored inside of you than the average soap opera; your not going to be in a fit state to be anybody’s friend. It is up to you to make the most of your life as you only get one. Your not a cat I’m afraid.

Best wishes

Angela

How to evolve work to benefit autistics

I read Digital Darwinism this morning on Blinkist and it spoke about changing businesses to account for the internet in the way we did for first electricity and then secondly computers. These have become integral parts of our lives but it took some time to accept them in roles that were more than just bolt-on additions. We need to do this with our workforce’s. We need to utilise location independence and free ourselves from the restricting 9-5 m-f culture. This is another barrier that can be removed with some innovative thinking. It mentions the perils that come from not adapting but also the successes that can come from revolutionising employment. For more information about different work practices read or listen to on Audible Cal Newport’s various books or Scott H Young for inspiration.

We need to evolve work so that it benefits autistic people.

  • Autistic people are kind, caring, idealistic and often put the needs of others before themselves.
  • This means that they will help others often to the detriment of themselves in the workplace.
  • They will also not promote themselves so they won’t get the due rewards that comes from their achievements.
  • They are also extremely empathetic to the point that your unresolved issues will cause them emotional distress.
  • This means that we don’t fare well in the closeted atmosphere of the typical office. We are not to be found gossiping around the water cooler and certainly not about what happened last night on Love Island etc.

It is shocking that only 1 in 6 autistics are in work. Not having work is a major contributor to depression. This is highly prevalent in the autism community. Anxiety is another factor that ranks highly and is caused by uncertainty. Not knowing what your going to do in your life or how your going to survive from one day to the next makes you ill. A lot of autistics feel suicidal as it affects them that much.Monique Botha

We have difficulty blocking out the trauma of the world yet to the average person everyday life isn’t traumatic. We can’t desensitise like you do. We are present in life much more than you. We are worrying about the bigger issues of the world like Greta Thunberg for instance. We are not often motivated by money or material possessions. We are striving for self actualisation.

There are reasons we like gardening (Alan Gardner), animals (Temple Grandin) or computer science (majority of Silicon Valley). These are all unemotional things in terms of human emotions. This is what disables us so we are unable to communicate. We are have a lot to offer we just have to be given an environment in which to do so.

My personal experience

I tried to become a part of the workforce but I’m too stubborn and resistant to allow myself to enter something so completely alien to me. When I went for interviews I never sold myself as I didn’t really want the jobs. I just felt I had to go through the motions and somehow I would earn a living. It always felt completely inauthentic. Even the clothing was distasteful to me!

I would like to work but I’ve never found anywhere that was comfortable for me because the energy present was toxic. I am a person that will walk into somewhere and if it’s too noisy I will walk straight back out again. I have done on several occasions. The people I have been with are sometimes ok with this and sometimes not. I have never found social environments inviting because of this unsettling behaviour. Since all workplaces have people they can be classed like that.

I have also never understood the way the average person keeps going into work even though they hate it. It completely drains them so they live for the holidays or the weekend. They numb themselves with alcohol and moan to their colleagues yet do nothing to improve their situation. When such things are classed as normality is it any wonder I have stayed far away from that.

Best wishes

Angela

Sociolinguistics or the use of context appropriate language

This is a field within the study of language that concentrates on how language use differs between social classes. This is very important for social development as how you communicate with your peers often vastly differs from how you would say the same phrases to an authority figure (police etc).

There is a method of communication called the restricted code that is used by children as it’s extra verbal. By this I mean that it is focused on things other than speaking. Touch and facial expression are the main means of expressing what you want to say. This also means there is little room for individual expression. This can be very problematic for the autistic child as they don’t like to be touched and have trouble understanding facial expressions. They also like to express there individuality. So immediately the neuro diverse child is at odds with the neuro typical child. The neuro diverse child understands their way of thinking. However the neuro typical way which is dominant and therefore more prevalent; makes no sense to them. Since the majority of people are neuro typical; in order for the neuro diverse child to get along they have to understand a way of thinking that is completely alien to themselves . The neuro typical child never needs to make any effort to try to understand the neuro diverse child though because there in a minority here.

So a neuro diverse child is disadvantaged and when they get older things get more difficult because the communication rules change again. We start to use the elaborated code with the increasing amount of time that we spend outside of the family and talking to adults. We still don’t understand our peers. The elaborated code has a focus on verbal language which can explain an autistics odd language. There language skills have been honed in isolation and they respect the formality of their native language. They are often to be found talking in a standard dialect. Their peers on the other hand talk in a non standard dialect. This is even more obvious if you come from a lower class background or move to one later on as there is much more deviation present.

It is only much later when the neuro diverse person has grown up that they can replicate neuro typical behaviour like it’s there own. This is very time and energy consuming for the neuro diverse individual. It is also known as masking when an autistic pretends to others that they are something they are not.

We never make neurotypicals act in a neuro diverse way so why do the neuro diverse have to act in a neuro typical way always?

Angela

Using technology to up your language game

It’s always a good idea to work smarter not harder as then you are rewarded for your efforts without you having to struggle so much. Therefore using the resources that are available and around you means maximum effect from minimum work. To this end I have started using Blinkist and Audible in addition to Amazon to be able to create an immersive environment to further my language learning.

As I’m introverted and autistic I’m not too fond of talking to people. This becomes apparent quite quickly if you have previously come across any of my work. As you may expect this presents certain problems. With the fact that I don’t like to mingle with others; my communication skill development has to take a different path. As I’m good at mimicking I can learn pronunciation from repeating the correct sounds made by others. As an integrative approach is best here, I need to look at a diverse range of options to get a broad spectrum. As accents vary from country, region, age, male/female etc I need to incorporate as much material as possible.

I have previously been using YouTube for music and educational purposes (Tedx) but the gap between the 2 is too vast. A lack of “Comprehensible Material” meaning it’s not currently the right level for me. When watching YouTube videos there is frequently no subtitles to assist me so this cuts down there usefulness. I have tried Sky Arts but there is not enough foreign language material. I have also looked into foreign films (World cinema) but again there is a lack of material or maybe access to the material as I’ve never found any. Netflix also seems to come up short when looking for Greek material.

My new idea is based on the fact that was used by a famous polyglot from the past to progress his linguistic merits. That is, read the same book in many languages since then you can learn grammar, syntax and semantics while enjoying a story that you already know well. This is a style favoured by Hungarian polyglot Kato Lomb and is also mentioned by other noted polyglots such as Canadian Steve Kaufmann and Italian Luca Lampariello.

Since the best way to learn a second language is to repeat the way you learnt your first language that is what I’m attempting to do here. It’s a lot easier for children to gain language skills than it is for adults as we try to intellectualise it too much. Basically we think too much about the underpinnings of a language looking to gain an understanding of the structure before attempting to ‘build a house’. Children just go forth and practice.

However the problem comes when the way I learnt is through my mother reading to me constantly. This meant that I could read by 18 months but was unable to talk for a further 4 months. My mum doesn’t know any foreign languages and is dyslexic just like my husband so that counts that option out. This means I have no practice partner. I have tried recording my voice and uploading to YouTube but I haven’t had any luck with that because I can be quite quiet and indistinct.

My solution to this problem is to get Blinkist and Audible to read to me but Greek books are few and far between. Getting a physical book to look at is very difficult online. As your brain reacts differently to an ebook than to a physical book this means that the real copy is much better for this purpose. An ebook could have a narrative attached to it to make it better as a real book wouldn’t have this capability. Getting a physical, audio and ebook of the same title in Greek is next to impossible. Dual language books are equally as difficult to find.

This 3 tier attack is easier in Italian, Spanish and even Russian but in Greek they just don’t seem to exist. I have done extensive research and monitored this over many years. While the situation has improved slightly, I don’t hold out much hope for a sudden burgeoning in the market.

Below is a link to my published work and to my previous blog posts where I have talked about many of the issues I have mentioned above.

My published books

Series links

Best wishes

Angela

Different types of Reading

This is a topic that I have previously visited and probably will visit again as it’s it’s very important.

Recently it was my birthday but I didn’t realise that I had hidden it on social media. I also didn’t realise how important the “it’s someone’s birthday, wish them a happy birthday.” function is to actually getting any greetings. Until my husband put up a picture saying “This is what I got my wife for her birthday“; nobody said a thing. Not even the people who came to my party although they did personally. So skim reading and pattern recognition must be what everyone uses to minimise the amount of attention they pay but also keep up to date. I also noticed that since I didn’t congratulate the people who had their birthday in the couple days before mine; they reciprocated by not bothering to send their wishes to me either. Fair enough that I don’t hang out with any of them but it was quite marked from previous years when it has been mentioned “Oh I wanted to write something but it won’t let me so I’m saying it now“.

The point I’m making here is that it’s a mainly dyslexic trait to look for certain words to figure out the meaning of a sentence but also an autistic one. Pattern recognition is very good for quickly analysing what a piece of text says and reporting back if you understand all of the words. Sight reading is what autistics do as they have memorised all of the words in their native language. This is how autistics can read so fast. This however does not mean that any understanding has been gleaned. This is certainly what will happen with someone who is hyperlexic.

The brain also doesn’t pay attention to most of what’s in a word. If it looks at the first and the last letter it can mostly figure out what is in the middle. There is that passage that goes around the internet frequently to the tune of

“Isn’t the brain wonderful, at first it was difficult to read this but now your getting used to and it’s becoming a lot easier”.

However they mix up all the letters in between to show that this really is the case.

I’m not sure how someone without a neuro condition reads but I think it’s similar to a phonics system and sounding out words then practising writing and talking. I personally only know how I do it and cannot pronounce any word correctly until I’ve heard it. Reading a word and saying it are quite frequently different especially in English.

The problem with using pattern recognition, skim and sight reading is your only getting the gist of the text in front of of you. If your learning to read in a foreign language these can and will trip you up on a regular basis as they do for me. False friends are very true to there name. This brings me to the subject which I’m yet to write about – making mistakes.

Best wishes

Angela

Verbal triggers

I can speak Greek but I need certain triggers to be able to say what I know and actually communicate with people. If the right situation doesn’t occur then that program doesn’t get loaded and we get nowhere. I also have to like/care about you or want to impress/show off to you. If your not interesting to me in some way then forget about it. I’m gonna make my excuses and leave where possible.

This is true of me in English too. I’m entirely capable of having a conversation about anything here but I just have to be motivated sufficiently to do so. Otherwise I’m probably not going to say a word and if forced well you better like bad jokes.

Have you ever come across these types of scenarios before?

Best wishes

Angela

Pammakristos (Greek autism charity)

This is the website that deals with severely autistic children in Greece which helps lots of children to lead better lives. People are born, live and die with autism. It gets better as you get older as you learning coping strategies and become more independent but the ability to revert when tired, ill, overwhelmed, stressed etc remains.
I’m sorry that the website is in Greek and there is no English equivalent hence it goes through Google Translate here but they can’t do everything.
I found this quite an interesting read yesterday. Sorry for the quality.

Best wishes

Angela