Monday, 19 March 2012

Parents' evening - one year on... Tissues ready

So... Pippi has a new teacher, as her previous teacher, who was fabulous, left to take up a headteacher position.

Went to parents' evening last week, and was so depressed afterwards, couldn't even blog about it. Basically, the first words out of her mouth were "I don't like labelling kids, I just like to meet them where they are." OK, fine. But I would like to let her know that Pippi is starting to display higher levels of anxiety at home, and that I think this is related to her difficulties with social skills, mainly in the playground. She loves school, and is always happiest in structured activities.

I get the beginning of this out, but she interrupts and says "Well, all girls find that sometimes, don't they, it's difficult getting along with other girls." I continue to try to explain, and we end up in a cycle where she keeps saying the same thing, and basically cutting me dead every time I try to explain what I'm talking about. When I mention Pippi's language difficulties, for which she's been receiving intensive speech therapy for the last 18 months she says "speech therapy?" in a tone which leaves me in no doubt that she had no idea this was happening.

It finishes with me saying "I know that all kids have difficulties sometimes, but for Pippi, this is not a sometimes thing. It's an everyday, every playtime thing, it's her life all the time. She really needs some help with social skills, I would really like it if we could work something out for her." She kind of nods.

And then we leave. DH is a bit disturbed by the fact I kept interrupting her, and wouldn't let her talk. I'm too angry to even argue with him.

Anyway, a few days later, we were back in school for Lucas' parents' evening meeting. Down the corridor was Pippi's new teacher, and she beckoned DH over, I was holding on to Pippi as we waited for our meeting. When DH came back, I asked him what she had said.

"Oh yeah, she said she felt really bad after our meeting, she felt she didn't know enough about autism and Aspergers. So she's been on a course, and now she knows a bit more about it."

So we met with the SENCO, which was our next meeting, and she confirms, like it's no big deal, "oh yes, Ms X has been on a course on autism this week, she's got lots of new ideas on ways she can work with Pippi on her social skills, she's very excited about it."

Lump in my throat. This truly is an amazing school. Pippi is a lucky girl.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Putting Pressure on myself

So... I woke up this morning and couldn't get out of bed. I was suddenly full of stress about this seminar I'm in the middle of preparing, my brain was pumping out various different scenarios about what bit of the work I needed to do the minute I got out of bed, and I just froze.

This happens sometimes, used to happen a lot more, and it's usually when I've been putting unrealistic expectations on myself, e.g. I will do 10 hours work a day for the next 4 days without a break. Then I kind of burn out and anxiety takes its toll.

I eventually got up, and immediately began to eat for England, and compounded that by digging out a library book I hadn't read and completely lost myself in it. (Even though it was really badly written!) I didn't come out of this until 3pm when dh went to do the school run. I finished the book, and looked up, and suddenly realised that the feeling I was feeling was fear. That was what was paralysing me. Quite often I don't go outside myself to look at what's going on, it's something I need to do more of. Once I realised that it was fear of not finishing the work that was paralysing me, I immediately made a cup of tea  and went upstairs and sat down on the big computer and started pulling my research together.

Seeing the fear as not based in reality just made it evaporate. I've proved to myself that if I just put my head down and keep doing the next one task and the next one task, I will eventually finish the piece of work, without any panicking or last-minute stress being necessary.

In my first degree (when I was much younger), I had no idea about my Aspergers, and was living in a chaotic, confused, and often drunken state, I struggled to undertake any work at all, and was very unhappy. I had the constant suspicion that I didn't understand what was going on around me (I was right). I was also horrendously bullied, which I hadn't expected at Uni, I thought that was school stuff, and people would be more mature.

Thank god I'm in my forties. Thank god my kids got diagnosed with Aspergers, allowing me to walk the path to self-diagnosis.  I love being this age and actually understanding what's going on around me, being able to own my own shit and disown everybody else's.

Life is good.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Writing - A Very Aspie Obsession

So...been thinking about writing and how important it is for me, I suppose it's a way of making sense of the world, and a way to connect with other people without having to consider their needs overly much (!).

It's just a magic combination, aspie, special interest and keyboard. The need to get stuff out of my brain is on occasion, quite overwhelming. I have always been an obsessive list-writer, and advance planner, and loved creative writing in school. Once I had graduated, I missed the academic writing, and eventually turned to lobbying to get my writing fix, lots of press releases and more strategies, tactics, planning etc.

For me, a lot of writing is about problem-solving, it's not enough to just get my thoughts down on paper, there has to be flow, and plot, and entertainment value. And there is the editing process, which is so vital, and so difficult.

Since the very beginning, this blog has been a start-to-finish writing exercise with no editing allowed, except backspace to correct misspellings. Don't ask me why it's like that, my aspie mind just generates rules sometimes. My last big project was my novel, and that was all about re-reading and editing, and plot control. Now that I'm studying again, my writing isn't so much fun, there are other people's rules to learn, like scientific referencing, and basing everything on research. But there does come a point where it's all about flow, that's my favourite part, where it all comes together and starts to read like there's an argument to be had.

I'm noticing that a lot of the adult aspies that I'm following on Twitter are writers, whether for fun or publishing, there's a big interest in language, correct use of, and language, silliness around. I do so love that aspect of it, as well as the 140 character rule, it's so arbitrary, I can really relate.

What does cause this obsessive interest in language and writing that so many aspies share? Is there an over-development in language areas of the brain that corresponds to damage in other areas? I'm almost over-sensitive to language, if I see an ugly phrase, or a misspelled word, I will mentally shudder.  I can spot a misspelled word at 20 paces. I'm also a really fast reader, I seem to read a page of text more as a picture than as a collection of individual words. I don't know if that's what they call eidetic memory. If I read something more than twice, the actual phrase lodges in my brain quite thoroughly.

But I haven't really found the optimal use for these skills, I don't want to do editing work, I'm more creative than that, novel-writing or academic writing is probably the best idea. After I finish my degree, I have a resolution to find ways to use my writing skills productively (and for cash!)