I See Things That Other People Don’t

I could start this post with a Sixth Sense reference but that’d be misleading.

My brain grok’s (it means “to understand something completely” from Stranger In A Strange Land) things differently. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

As I absorb something I see various ways to improve it. These observations feel natural and obvious to me, yet they’re like bolts of genius lighting to others. I used to feel that I can’t be the first to notice. After my revelation I put that down to an Autistic superpower that most people don’t have.

I’m finding two downsides to this. First, I’m talking to people who don’t grok it so getting things improved is frustrating, and second, I can’t unsee them.

People adapt to tools and processes without any concept of how much easier things could be. It’s driving me nuts knowing it could be better, having a problem and solution, and having to use what we have.

This is a very strong selling point in the right job. I need to either adapt my current job / employer to play to that strength, or find something else. Maybe the long term is self employment, where I have full control.


I Don’t Get How Team Sports Fans Can Be Racist

I’ll start this by disclosing the following. I am a middle aged white male. I identify with Manchester United.

Manchester United have had a very successful history. They’ve had some of the best players in the world at various times.

My favourite player (of the games I’ve watched live on TV) is Paul Scholes. He had plenty of other great players to play with; Beckham, Cole, Keane, Giggs, Ferdinand, Ronaldo, the list goes on.

Scholes strikes me as a very humble guy with incredible football talent. He always worked his socks off for the team (Manchester United and England). He always drew the eye, on and off the ball. He always wanted to win, and never gave up.

Since he retired I’ve had to adjust. Currently I’m on “Team Rashford”. I’d like to see him get more game time. I love how he’s developing. I see a lot of Scholes in him.

When Andrew Cole signed I thought he wasn’t suited to the style. He was brilliant, right from the start. He saw it as a path for improvement.

This bought Alex Ferguson a LOT of leeway in my mind. This is the start of a whole new chapter of experiences.

Every team sports fan has lots of their individual experiences like that. I get behind every one of my team. I appreciate flair, hard work, determination, and not just from my team. I want the best team to win. I want that to be my team.

I don’t see colour. I don’t see race. I only see players. My experience is the event.

I can’t grok how you can see “players” when the focus is your team, yet “black, Asian” etc when the focus is your opponents, in particular your rivals.


More Than The Sum Of Your Parts

We are all who we meet. We pick up interests and habits that form ourselves. How much of this is even identifiable is up for debate.

Ask any woman if she likes the colour pink. It’s rare to find someone who says she doesn’t. Is this conditioning?

Every girl she’s grown up around wears a lot of pink. Many toys are pink. She’s conditioned to associate pink as a female colour.

In the end, does it matter?

In my case, when I look for a new thing to watch, I want to watch every episode from the start. This is harmless. It just saps my free time.

Having discovered this is an Autistic trait, it’s made me wonder if that’s been the source of the habit. I now actively try to break that pattern.

It’s about identifying what parts are my Aspergers, so I can regain control in little ways.

It’s about picking my battles. I know there’s some things that I wouldn’t budge the needle on, no matter the effort.


Aversion To Being Photographed

The vast majority of the people who read this have no idea what I look like. This is by design. I’ve always put that down to me being a very private person. As it turns out, this may not be the whole reason.

After some cursory Googling I found several links to Autism and Aspergers. I can make eye contact but not hold it. It appears to be an extension of this. The camera is just indirect eye contact.

I actively avoid being in shot. I do reluctantly allow it occasionally with conditions like “don’t make it public”.

It’s not a fear. I know it’s harmless. Some cultures believe the soul is somehow negatively impacted. There’s no superstition.

It feels like I have eyes in the back of my head, and move like a scalded Tauntaun (Star Wars reference) at the hint of selfie. This stands out as odd behaviour in the smartphone and social network era. I even turn into Chewie (second Star Wars reference) when people try to coax me into a group picture. I shall not be moved.

In a work environment this can awkward. I work for a large company. There are several hundred people in the same building, in a wide variety of roles. We have regular group activities; some of which end in a group selfie. I have chosen to create a card I can carry with me, and show the trainer before that activity begins. I’m still working on the wording. I’ll post it when I’m happy with it.


Diagnosis Confirmed

It’s been a while since my last post. Sorry about that. I’ve been finding a way to live that plays to my strengths. I’ve now set up a website for my creative stuff. I’ll keep blogging here around Autism and Aspergers.

In December I had the second of two appointments with a psychiatrist. Her diagnosis is that I am on the Autistic Spectrum. The term Aspergers is a semantic issue. I use it purely because it points to more or less where on the spectrum I am. It’s shorthand.

I see the subject of the diagnosis come up a lot on the autism forums, and the impact it has. For me, I already knew, so it confirmed my instincts. I don’t see it as a bad thing. It’s simply something I need to modify my environment in places to work around.

It helps me focus in on more suitable types of work environment and role. For the first time in my life, I have plans for the future.


Literally Speaking

When I discovered Aspergers I realised that most of the common symptoms matched me to some degree. One that I’m undecided on is taking things literally.

For years I have “intentionally misheard” as a prompt for a joke. I know what was said. I reacted accordingly after the joke. In light of the Aspergers thing I revisited that assumption.

I then thought that my brain had worked out a coping strategy for that very symptom. Perhaps my brain automatically symphons off that urge via humour. If I resist the joke, then what?

At work I think I found out what. In this case it wasn’t resisting the joke, more being stressed at going into a large group activity for several hours to deal with what I consider frivolous stuff.

As we entered, one of the managers was handing out tickets to everyone, to pick teams for part of the activity. In an effort to make it fun she played the “you’re not allowed a seat without a ticket” game. No matter how my logical brain knew it was all in fun, it put me into a “how dare you? I don’t think so” mood. This start fixated me the whole evening.

I can no longer honestly say that I don’t take some things literally.